Garfield County sheriff responds to personal accusations
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Questions about a romantic relationship involving Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario and a detention sergeant prompted the sheriff’s office to address the situation with a news release Friday.
The release indicated Vallario had been contacted by an area newspaper regarding accusations combining both his personal and professional life.
The news release said, “An e-mail containing a host of fabricated stories, gossip and rumors were presented to the (Grand Junction Daily) Sentinel. Sheriff Vallario has always run his organization with an open-door policy. For the individuals who have submitted the accusations, answers will not come from the media but the sheriff himself.
“Although Sheriff Vallario has seen changes in his personal life in the past year, his organizational direction remains focused on the public safety of Garfield County,” the news release added.
The press release said that the accusations are “absolutely false. This is a desperate attempt to undermine the sheriff’s credibility and leadership for personal gain. Sheriff Vallario has faith that the citizens of Garfield County will continue their support based on facts not fiction!!!”
Accusations of impropriety were also e-mailed to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and the two senior Garfield County commissioners. The Post Independent has been contacted with similar accusations for months. The person or persons making the accusations never signs the e-mails, and always states they were unwilling to come forward or allow his or her name to be used as a source for the accusations.
In a phone interview Friday, Vallario, who said he is divorced, admitted that he’s been in a romantic relationship with a female detention sergeant for a little less than a year, but it’s not affecting the organization.
Vallario said that the relationship is serious, saying that he intends to “spend the rest of my life with this woman.”
He said some employees are unhappy because the sheriff’s office has done some restructuring and promoted some less senior, higher performing employees over more senior employees who believed they should have gotten the promotions instead based solely on longevity. Vallario said the restructuring was part of his taking more of a focus on the jail and elevating its standards and procedures.
“The story is disgruntled employees don’t like the fact that the sheriff’s office is moving forward without them,” he said. “The employee that looks in the mirror and sees other faces to blame instead of saying ‘how can I improve’ is not the employee I want working at the sheriff’s office.”
He also said people are “disgruntled” over a couple of internal affairs investigations. Jail Commander Scott Dawson, who is on leave, is one of the people under internal affairs investigation, Vallario said.
Vallario said he can’t discuss the nvestigations because they’re personnel matters.
“Part of the problem is I’m not allowed to throw out on the table what’s going on because it’s protected,” he said.
The unsigned e-mail to commissioners accused Vallario and the detention deputy of a variety of inappropriate behaviors, including complaints about alleged favoritism and promotions.
“This is anonymous, unsubstantiated garbage,” Vallario said.
Vallario has nearly two years remaining on his elected term.
According to the sheriff’s office, the Daily Sentinel contacted them later in the evening saying it was reconsidering whether of not to pursue the story further.
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