Sheriff’s office strives for community, fairness | AspenTimes.com

Sheriff’s office strives for community, fairness

Dear Editor:

Having recently reviewed sheriff candidate Rick Leonard’s campaign literature, we wished to address a couple of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office business practices with which he takes issue.

We all started our careers with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office in the 1980s. We were all promoted by Sheriff Braudis to the rank of patrol director and director of operations. We, along with Undersheriff DiSalvo, were promoted because Bob trusted we would make decisions that are compatible with his philosophical and moral compass where “the rubber meets the road.” Although we applaud Mr. Leonard’s 22 years of service in our profession, each of the five of us has more experience than Mr. Leonard. And our experience is here, in our beloved Roaring Fork Valley.

No, we do not use military titles. This is because we have always felt that a true community policing agency should bear no resemblance to the military. We use titles that reflect what we actually do. This is transparency. All of us are at heart “deputy sheriffs” or “Sheriff Bob’s Deputies.” A deputy sheriff is the standard road warrior out there every day taking your criminal complaints, fixing flat tires, responding to car crashes, getting cats out of trees, finding dogs, mediating neighborhood disputes, keeping the peace in non-peaceful situations, searching for loved ones who are lost, serving civil papers, and, yes, arresting those in the community who fail to heed the law. Patrol directors are our sergeant/lieutenant position. In non-military parlance, we “direct our patrol staff” to carry out their duties in the way our citizenry have chosen over and over again through their election of “Sheriff Bob” and the principles for which he stands.

Our “deputy sheriff” positions have been relatively transitory over the years with folks moving on to other positions and retirement, but what has remained constant is the administration’s strong belief in hiring local people and coaching and mentoring them to follow a unique, humane philosophy of peace keeping on which this community should pride itself. One of our omnipresent goals is to compensate our employees with a competitive wage and benefit package. The economic climate for the last several years has made this a challenge, but we rose to the challenge. The middle managers took no raises or nominal raises by our choice in order to further improve the compensation package of our lowest paid employees. Per our mission statement, this is what we thought was “fair” and “respectful.”

We are all saddened by the end of the “Braudis era,” but feel comfort that Bob has put in place a succession plan that respects our ability to continue to mentor and coach new and young additions to our patrol staff who are highly trained in all aspects of peace keeping, law enforcement, mediation, negotiation, and any number “arrows in their quiver” to handle any and all of the unique situations presented in our very special community. We have never prescribed to cookie-cutter law enforcement and hopefully never will.

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We would like to share with your readers the mission statement of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office: Guided by constitutional, community, and professional standards, our mission is to respect human dignity and provide the highest level of service to all. We will assist the community in our mutual pursuit of a peaceful, safe, and healthy environment. We are committed to excellence, openness, fairness and tolerance.

When our fellow citizens cast their vote for sheriff, we would ask that you remember at least the gist of our mission statement. We are a group of dedicated, long-time local folks who deeply believe in our community and its creative and unique soul. We have seen challengers to this philosophy in the past come out, take their aim at us, and miss. We think there is a lesson here. Thank you.

Tom Grady, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office director of operations

Jeff Lumsden, Ann Stephenson, Mario Strobl and Joe Bauer, patrol directors