Dalessandri: Eight years of proven leadership | PostIndependent.com

Dalessandri: Eight years of proven leadership

Tom Dalessandri

Eight years ago you elected me to serve as your sheriff. In that first campaign, I learned much about what was important to you the people. After many discussions, it was clear to me that Garfield County hungered for strong leadership based on honesty, integrity and fair treatment.

We set out to build an organization on that premise. Today, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office sets a standard for law enforcement across our county. Many have recognized our accomplishments throughout the Western Slope and state. Today, you can be proud of your county public safety agency.

In the first four years, we were able to relieve you, the taxpayers, of the tremendous liability hanging over the jail. Appearances before the federal courts were necessary to convince then-presiding Judge Matsch that we were in fact doing all that we could to meet federal stipulations imposed in a court order prior to my serving as your sheriff. In the final proceedings, Judge Matsch called me before him and before releasing himself as presiding judge over this matter said, “Sheriff, you have proven yourself credible.”

The next four years, we set out to build the new jail. Controversy over location, design style and dollars dominated the first two years prior to construction. What rang clear however, to me, was the wish of the people. If the jail was to be in Glenwood Springs, it must architecturally fit in and be safe. The limited funds dictated that it must be efficient in both design and operation.

My promise to you the people was that we would meet and exceed those requirements. The result is a model facility recognized statewide and nationally for its many qualities. Locally the facility has been complimented as being the most attractive building among the three new structures set in the government complex area.

While immersed in the jail development, Y2K came into light as a potentially serious issue. We set to work building an emergency plan, several months in the making, in preparation for the worst. While this disaster never manifested itself, we were ready – these efforts would not go in vain.

A short time later the attacks of 9/11 occurred and we were able to utilize much of what we learned as an overlay to emergency planning. Frustrated by a lack of information, I actively sought out information from our state and federal government and have now become a resource and a recognized link for Garfield County and the Western Slope in the event of future attacks and emergency preparation.

Notwithstanding, disaster struck home this past summer. Five major fires and over 50 others had my staff and myself running from virtually one end of the county to the other. (If you aren’t aware, the sheriff is the county’s fire warden by statute.) In each case we organized information flow, planned evacuations, held community meetings, conveyed updates to the media, protected homes and comforted victims and families. Almost immediately the effects of fire led to the fear of mud and floods and we quickly organized a task of emergency professionals and local citizens to identify the risks and solutions. That task force created and managed a response plan unlike any we have ever experienced in Garfield County.

In the midst of these challenges we transitioned seamlessly into the new jail. While it appeared to the average citizen to be just another day, it was a huge undertaking requiring the utmost of safety and coordination. Once again, we have been recognized by correctional professionals at both the state and national level for our achievements and success.

Even with these monumental tasks, the day-to-day responsibilities of public safety required our response. Thus far this year, we have responded to over 8,000 calls for service, many of which occurred simultaneous to the previously mentioned events. Garfield County encompasses over 3,000 square miles. Our population corridor runs from the west county line past Parachute east to El Jebel. Our most dense population spans over 300 square miles. The unincorporated population of our county is over twice the size of our largest city, over 20,000 people. In essence, the county sheriff’s deputies patrol a city this size.

We have always strived to serve our citizens in the finest manner possible. Customer service is our highest priority. With the same or less number of deputies patrolling our county than most small towns have patrolling their 3- or 4-square-mile territories, our deputies work extremely hard for me on your behalf. Some, who have chosen a lesser commitment, have gone on to other agencies; others, who have fallen short of the commitment, have been asked to leave and now work elsewhere. But the strong and committed members of this department have strived to excellence on your behalf and to them I wish to say “thank you.” They are the greatest among public servants and their sacrifice is more than most will ever know.

Our past eight years have met with countless accomplishments. I would be proud to share them in detail with anyone who wishes to ask. They are far more than I could ever express in this print. You have invested heavily in me. I, in return, have invested heavily in making the sheriff’s office one of the finest public safety agencies in our state.

During these final weeks, you will hear vague rhetoric from our opponent implying shortfalls of the sheriff and his office. After all, this is politics. But I ask you to carefully consider the highlights of what we have mentioned above. I know that you will sift through the political agendas and find truth – that our service has been and will continue to be about you. After all, public safety shouldn’t be about politics, it’s about people.

Thanks for being there for us.

– Sheriff Tom Dalessandri : “the People’s Sheriff.”

Incumbent Tom Dalessandri is the Democratic candidate for Garfield County sheriff.

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