Eagle County Sheriff Hoy tries to reassure residents in the midvalley

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Sheriff Joe Hoy

EL JEBEL – Residents of the midvalley told Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy on Monday night they don’t want a reduction in the number of deputies patrolling the Basalt and El Jebel area.

“My fear [is] losing your guys,” said a woman who didn’t identify herself. About 30 midvalley residents attended a meeting to discuss staffing levels at a time of tightening government budgets.

Hoy and the audience were on the same page. He said he has no intention of cutting service to the El Jebel and Basalt areas. Hoy said there are a lot of inaccurate rumors circulating about his department’s direction.

“The first one I heard is that we were going to completely pull out of El Jebel,” Hoy said. “That’s not going to happen.”

The sheriff, who is running for re-election this year, also said he doesn’t want to contract services out to the Basalt Police Department.

Hoy has been directed by the Eagle County commissioners to trim $2 million from his 2010 budget for 2011. His top staff and a citizens’ committee have identified about $1.6 million in cuts. He is meeting with the commissioners Tuesday to brief them on his progress and find out if more cuts are necessary. If so, he might – he stressed to the crowd the key word is might – have to switch to a system where a deputy is on call rather than patrolling in the Basalt-El Jebel between 3 and 6 a.m. “when the only thing moving around is skunks and raccoons.”

But that will only be a last resort. Hoy said his focus is on keeping “our level of service as high as we can get it.”

Audience members peppered Hoy with a handful of questions and concerns. One man, who identified himself as a former law officer, expressed concern that if hours are cut by deputies in the midvalley, “no-goods” will figure out staffing patterns and act when deputies aren’t patrolling.

Other audience members wanted to know if the deputy is current employing deputies who live in the Roaring Fork Valley. Hoy said he has four deputies covering 24 hours, seven days per week in the midvalley – just as the department has done for years. He said Eagle County has a hiring freeze but his department made an exception to fill an opening in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Hoy’s implication was clear – no cuts planned for the Roaring Fork Valley.