Bill has never been a proponent of legalized marijuana and was a vocal opponent of Amendment 64. He continues to speak in opposition whenever possible. He was instrumental in the development and passage of legislation in 2017 restricting the home grow plant limits. There are currently over 550 known illegal, unregulated marijuana grows in El Paso County. Many of these illegal grows are conducting business right next to schools, churches, and in private residences in a neighborhood near you. With Bill's creation of the Rural Enforcement & Outreach Unit in El Paso County, the Sheriff's Office is taking a proactive stand against illegal black and grey market marijuana grow activity. Each week, hundreds of pounds of illegal drugs are taken off the market before they reach the streets throughout the country from these grows right here in El Paso County.
Upon taking Office in 2015, Bill took up the effort of promoting fiscal transparency. This included measures that had never been taken in the history of the Sheriff's Office. The first measure included working with the County Budget & Finance Office to bring the Sheriff's Office financial procedures into compliance with normal, accepted and standardized governmental budgeting and finance practices. This same office conducted an independent audit of the Civil divisions accounts as well as Commissary accounts. Some of the accomplishments of these transparency measures to date include:
In other administrative matters, the following has been completed:
Bill has provided deputy sheriff commissions to every sworn law enforcement officer in El Paso and Teller County. Criminals frequently cross jurisdictional boundaries, and now local law enforcement personnel can do the same to increased operational effectiveness. The result is clearly that more criminals are off the street and in jail. This matches Bill's promise to provide a safe, healthy and vibrant community to live and work.
Through a strategic effort to re-align patrol districts, response times are down county-wide. Bill continues to conduct manpower assessments as deployment models change to meet the growing needs of our ever expanding unincorporated communities.
Under no circumstances, while I am the elected Sheriff, will I "civilianze" the jail. My sworn jail personnel are second to none, with the Criminal Justice Center remaining the only jail in the State of Colorado managed by ALL POST certified detentions deputies.
With some law enforcement agencies in Colorado and nationwide seeing upwards of 14-20% /year loss of sworn officers, I am proud to say the El Paso County Sheriff's Office is dramatically lower than the industry standard. As of October 2017, the sworn attrition rate (resign and retire) is 7.7%. 2016 was 7.8% and 2015 (prior to salary increases) was 11.6%. The next two highest percentages were in 2007 with 11% and 2006 with 8.6%. With the graduation of recruits from the 2017-2 Academy, EPSO will be fully staffed to the authorized number of personnel allowed under the budget.
My commitment to renewing the Public Safety Tax (PST) is one that cannot be understated. While I will not ask the voters to increase the tax upon it's sunset, any loss or reduction of the funding resulting from the .23% sales and use tax would have devastating effects on manpower and critical future capital projects. As unincorporated El Paso County continues to grow, future revenue sources must also grow. Increased population changes in our jail must be anticipated, and a plan must be in place to ensure the safety of the facility and those personnel charged with its' care. We must find ways to add personnel, not eliminate them.
KRW Associates LLC (KRW) was retained by El Paso County to conduct an Organizational Assessment of the Sheriff’s Office in February 2015. External customers were queried about their impressions of the quality of services and their relationship with the Office. The goal was to conduct an in-depth assessment of the organizational climate and environment in order to offer recommendations to enhance morale, organizational proficiency and leadership. The project team conducted a comprehensive review of current operational practices, policies and procedures. Over 200 employees (both sworn and civilian) were interviewed both individually and during 12 focus groups.
The KRW Report provided the Sheriff's Office 40 recommendations falling under the categories of Communication, Trust, Leadership, and Strategic Planning & Operations. Many recommendations were addressed within months of the report. The remaining recommendations became the driving force behind the 2015-2018 Strategic Plan.
In August of 2017, I asked KRW to return to the Sheriff's Office to evaluate our progress on the recommendations outlined in the KRW Report. They have been meeting with employees, reviewing changes to policy and procedure and holding focus groups. We hope to have the results before the end of 2017.