SAGUACHE — They have been at work for a while, and are still undergoing training, but four new deputies will soon be on board full-time at the Saguache Sheriff’s Office to help alleviate the staff shortage the sheriff’s department has suffered from for years.
The deputies were hired with the help of public safety funds passed by voters in 2018 and all of the deputies graduated from the same police academy — Community College of Aurora. The four deputies began their training in July 2018. They graduated together from the school in May 2019.
Three of the deputies were on hand to answer questions at the domestic violence event sponsored by the Ute Theater earlier this month. The fourth deputy was unavailable that day but later called in to complete her interview.
Deputy Vasquez said he has previously worked in the Department of Corrections and law enforcement is “all I know.” The new deputies will undergo 14 weeks of training before beginning full-time, he explained. This includes learning the local geography, the art of observation, multitasking, tactical skills, safety awareness, interpersonal communication skills, knowledge of state statutes and the traffic code, NCRS and wildlife codes, also court procedures, dispatch procedures and jail protocols.
“Court procedures are really different here,” he commented. Vasquez said farming and wildlife will be the biggest challenge and he has his eyes on the road to look out for stray farm animals and wildlife. He already has been part of the Moffat fire response team and also responded to a shooting incident at Lazy KV Estates. He is looking forward to being involved with the drug and DUI task force, especially “anything involving drugs.”
Deputy Barrios grew up in a small town not unlike Saguache on the Eastern Plains, so he is used to small town life and its ways. Fluent in Spanish, she came to Saguache County to help the Hispanic community. Barrios is starting off in the jail to learn that process and observe how its funding, booking and releasing procedures work.
“I’ve wanted to be a police officer since I was a little girl,” she said. At some point she would like to be involved in human trafficking investigations, work as a school resource officer and train to respond to school attacks. “I’m here to help,” she said. “Don’t hesitate to reach out. This is a good department and we have four new officers ready to serve.”
Deputy Randall, who is from the Denver area, said the new deputies “were all friends at the academy” and talked to one another often. He loves the mountains and hiking and is impressed with the fact that the crowds here in the mountain recreational areas are nothing like they are on the Front Range. Randall says he would “love to focus on drug interdiction and illegal marijuana grows” in the county.
He finds the people in Saguache County “incredibly friendly” and the traffic in the valley amazingly light. “Where I come from it [traffic] was horrific,” he remarked. He finds the Sheriff’s Office extremely community oriented, adding that the Sheriff’s Office staff go out of their way to help community members. “They go that extra mile to help solve problems,” he said, “you just don’t find that in the city.”
Deputy Quintero was born in Monterrey, Mexico and came to Colorado in 2009. She says it is thanks to two important role models in her life, both police officers, that she chose law enforcement as a career. “They encouraged me to become a better person, and that is why I am here today. I want to be that person to encourage someone else, like they did for me — to do better, and to be better.”
Quintero says she chose Saguache County because Sheriff Dan Warwick expressed a genuine interest in her as a person and who he was going to hire. “He went on calls with us and was willing to be involved,” she noted. “Not many departments have a sheriff like that.” Barrios hopes to be able to someday work on a SWAT team and train as a K-9 officer.
Saguache Sheriff Dan Warwick says he welcomes the new recruits and looks forward to their contributions to the sheriff’s department.