Saguache County Commissioners hear concerns from citizens about emergency operations 

Photo by Mechel Meek  Saguache County Commissioners heard from residents during their regular meeting on Nov. 2. 

SAGUACHE — During the Nov. 2 Saguache County Commissioners meeting, the public expressed concerns with emergency operations and said the Sheriff's Office needs more support.  

Michelle Beelendorf, of Crestone, said, “One of the big things I am here to make a comment on, I want to express concern because it seems that the Sheriff needs more support from the council and the emergency manager.” She expressed concern that the emergency manager does not live in Saguache County and why he doesn't have a closer connection with the Sheriff’s Office. She also said that it would make sense to her to have a local emergency manager. 

The commissioners addressed her concern regarding where the emergency manager lives, noting that most employees of Saguache County live in other Valley areas. 

Commissioner Tim Lovato said the emergency manager is open to questions from all people.  

Commissioner Tom McCracken offered to hold a town hall in Crestone so the community could meet the emergency manager in the next few weeks. Baca Grande resident Jeff Winsett said, “Our Sheriff needs a lot more help, he is on a shoestring budget. He has asked for money to place a camera since graffiti is out of control at the kiosk.” 

Winsett explained that the residents would like to have a live-in resident deputy. But the prices of housing are keeping deputies from living in the area. 

Winsett also said that the deputies are not paid enough and that keeps them from remaining in the area and makes it difficult to hire people. 

During the department head reports, Sheriff Dan Warwick presented a covert pole camera system to address the problems at the kiosk and a portable trailer camera system to monitor other problem areas that would be used to help prevent crime or solve crimes. 

Sheriff Warwick said, “The pole camera at the kiosk would be to see people and catch them doing wrong and charge them.” 

The pole camera system was unanimously approved for purchase by the board. 

Commissioners then discussed the portable camera system and asked the Sheriff to send them more information about the different types of capabilities in those types of cameras. 

The commissioners and the Sheriff also discussed the jail committee that was recently formed and was comprised of knowledgeable persons regarding law enforcement and jail operations throughout the county, including Center Police Department Chief Dale Meek. 

The purpose of the committee is to discuss the options, requirements, location and plans for a possible new jail for Saguache County. 

“We need to work on getting funding for the new jail,” said Warwick. He also said that it is difficult for the grant writers to apply for a grant without an estimate for the costs for the new jail. The commissioners discussed the different options and budget ideas to fund the proposed jail. 

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