Summit police look to expand staff as county grows
Summit law enforcement will need additional resources as the county continues to expand. With budget discussions underway, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office requested two additional staff positions, while Dillon Police requested one additional officer.
“Everyone’s budget is still pretty tight,” Summit County Sheriff John Minor said. “We’re still down positions from where we were overall since 2007, 2008.”
The sheriff’s office is requesting an evidence tech and a special operations officer to meet the growing needs of the county, as seasonal slow periods get shorter and shorter every year. The office also manages larger amounts of evidence, as law now requires some evidence to be kept for 99 years, others must be kept for the duration of a defendant’s life.
“Anyone who lives in Summit County can tell you it’s a lot busier now than five, six, or seven years ago,” Minor added. “We book in about six to seven people per day, and release about six to seven people per day.”
According to the Summit County Planning Department, the population was projected to grow 2,674 residents between 2010 and 2015, for a total of 30,668. The department estimates that by 2030, the county will have added 5,708 permanent residents.
Since the recession, the sheriff’s office has managed to reinstate one of two school resources officers, with hopes of adding another in the future.
Summit County public affairs coordinator Julie Sutor said the two sheriff’s office positions were included in the recommended budget from the county manager’s office. The budget will go up to vote on Dec. 8, with an opportunity for public comment on Nov. 24.
“It’s good to see that we’re getting a tiny bit of the relief that we need,” Minor added.
Dillon also proposed adding a new patrol officer as part of the town’s budget discussion on Tuesday, to help cover vacancies in both patrol and detective work. The new position would cost the town about $31,000 per year, to cover a portion of the salary.
“The chief has proposed a patrol officer two that would function as a patrol officer, and when needed, would function at a higher level with evidence and detective work, which he really needs,” Dillon town manager Tom Breslin said. “The sergeants are just too busy to do this kind of stuff.”
Breslin recommended approval of the new position to town council considering both the need and budget availability.
“It comes at a really good time,” Dillon finance director Carri McDonnell said. “We actually have some money available to the police department.”
The Dillon Police Department currently consists of six officers and two sergeants, with no full-time detective. While the department often cooperates with Silverthorne, which has a detective and a few more staff, chief Mark Heminghous said it would be beneficial to have an officer in-house to offer training and detective work, as well as serve as a custodian for evidence.
“While we do a lot of work together, it’s not fair on their budget to utilize (Silverthorne’s) detective as much as we could,” Heminghous said. “The number of officers as far as 24-hour coverage has not changed in 10 years.”
Council has not yet voted on the issue, but it will be included in further budget discussions. Most town staff spoke in support of the addition.
“There are just more and more people up here, with more and more stuff happening all the time,” Breslin said. “I think it’s just another step in the right direction.”
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