Outgoing sheriff leaves behind solid department
As my eight years of service to the citizens of Garfield County comes to a close, it’s important to me to share my final thoughts regarding my term of service and the office of sheriff. It has been an honor and privilege to serve you these past two terms and I feel that I have successfully fulfilled my promises and contributions to the betterment of our community.
Recalling my commitment to you in my very first few days of office, I promised that I would create a sheriff’s office that was accountable, open to the public and professional. After eight years, I am proud to turn such an organization over to the new sheriff-elect. It is now up to him to carry on the services that you, the people, have come to know and desire.
Rest assured, your incoming sheriff has been afforded every opportunity to meet with staff and receive direction as to the operation of his newly acquired role. I personally called, and talked to the sheriff-elect immediately after the outcome of the election to congratulate him and offer to meet. In addition, Undersheriff Jim Sears has met with the incoming sheriff, on my request, on numerous occasions to provide him insight. Several other key administrative staff have prepared him for a smooth transition and he has assumed command of a well-run and finely tuned organization ready to accept his new directives. Shortly after the election I directed every staff member to meet freely with the sheriff-elect and discuss openly the operation of the department, which they did.
We stressed customer service, integrity and honesty as our guiding principles. We recognized the importance of your need to know and we developed a comprehensive media program assigning a public information officer to assure timely and accurate release of information.
I personally provided the media with my cell phone and pager, encouraging them to call me any time and any place so as to assure the media their ability to meet their deadlines and get the information to you by the very next hour or day.
I led the charge along with other county officials to build one of the finest detention centers in the nation, a model many counties have visited and desired to emulate. We have been a team, hiring each individual personally; we sought individuals who desired to achieve our level of commitment and professionalism and to participate in our team of service.
Our selection process (which oftentimes involved members of the community) set as the highest priority the search for people who were citizens first who happened to be policemen rather than seeking policemen who happened to be citizens.
This philosophy of policing paid off during the transition into the new jail and the following summer of fires when each member of this great team put their personal lives on hold to serve you for endless hours each day.
We challenged government and other public safety leaders to strive to higher standards and we always served to work cooperatively within the boundaries of the law.
I wish to thank all the good people who supported my staff and me throughout this past eight years, those who voted for me and those who did not, but believed in what we were doing and how we did it. Many heartfelt expressions have been received by me since the November election. Many of you stood by my side, some silently and others more publicly, but always in support of our service, and from all corners of this county. I want you to know that your acts of kindness have served as the catalyst keeping us working on your behalf.
In particular, I want to thank my hometown, Carbondale. You have overwhelmingly supported me throughout three elections and eight years of service. It is a warm feeling to know that you are cared about and appreciated by your hometown folks.
I want to thank my wife, children and mother, who served a difficult and oftentimes silent vigil of personal feelings and sacrifices through each election and throughout the rigors and demands of office.
I want to thank my close and personal friends, the Kaufman family, whose patriotic devotion to honesty and integrity and whose commitment to community far surpasses any that I have known. They are a family whom I will always admire and aspire to emulate.
Finally I want to thank my great staff, who served me but more served you in a manner unlike any I have experienced. Most people will never know the amount of work and effort that has gone into these eight years. But I know, and I thank each and every member of my team for their commitment. I know that they will continue their aspirations of excellence no matter who succeeds me in the future. They were hired for their promise to serve you the people, and I am certain that their commitment is unwavering.
The title – sheriff- has never been as important to me as its purpose of serving as a vehicle to our accomplishments. With this in mind, it is of little distress to me to be leaving the office. After all, it was never mine to keep.
As was briefly stated in the recent Post Independent story of my departure, I wish to share some of my views of policing. I feel quite qualified in doing so with nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience, 15 of which involved serving as a law enforcement administrator.
A wise, former chief of police once said before a city council he addressed, “A community gets the kind of policing that it deserves.” He said this in the context of encouraging his community to be more actively involved in directing its public safety services.
Indeed, it is important to remember that a free society must manage its government. If you allow government to take care of you, it surely will!
As such, you, as citizens, ordain your local police with an awesome authority. It is not theirs to wield freely or without discretion. As a community, you have the responsibility to control it.
In a free society, no law-abiding citizen should ever fear its police. It must always be in the forefront of every public servant’s mind that they serve at the collective pleasure and direction of the community. Simply put, it our responsibility to police the police.
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This will be my 500th column — my final column in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.