John Minor, Republican, Summit County Sheriff
Summit County Sheriff
Sheriff John Minor, a Republican, is unopposed in the Nov. 2 general election. He was appointed to the position in January by the Summit Board of County Commissioners and defeated Republican challenger Mike Phibbs in the Aug. 10 primary election.
Campaigning with a promise of accountability, Minor holds up the Citizen’s Advisory Board he formed since taking office in January as an example of his aim to communicate with the area’s citizens. He chose the first 23 applicants to be committee members, who will rate him at the end of his term, if elected. If he receives a failing grade, Minor said he would not run again in two years.
Minor meets with the committee once a month, saying elected officials should not undergo job evaluations only at election time.
A much-liked patrol officer in Silverthorne when he worked the streets, Minor admits he misses being a beat cop because he liked daily contact with the community. An advocate of community policing, he supports more patrol officers at the Sheriff’s Office, which covers more than 600 square miles and has four deputies per shift on patrol.
The department does not have as many cops on the street as Breckenridge, which covers a much smaller territory, he said. The Sheriff’s Office employs 11 patrol officers plus four patrol sergeants.
Minor wants to see that the patrol officers number increased by at least three. He also wants to hire another investigator, so that case loads will be reduced from 30 to 50 cases per investigator to 20.
While the Summit Board of County Commissioners asked Minor not to make changes in the department when he was appointed in December, Minor said, “I’m a change agent.” He promoted Capt. Derek Woodman to undersheriff and moved one sergeant from a position in the jail onto patrol.
Minor also advocates communication within the department. An open-door policy means just that – his office door is ajar all day and he invites employees to come in, sit down and talk. To reach out to the Latino community, Minor held a meeting at Summit Middle School, where parents were invited through an interpreter, if necessary, to ask questions.
The department is also starting a soccer program, where deputies will volunteer to help entice kids to improve grades. Like his opponent, Minor supports new computers in patrol cars to save deputies time in filing reports and completing daily tasks. He does not, however, support Internet-based report filing – something championed by his opponent.
On Summit County’s Drug Task Force: “We’re never going to win the war on drugs, but it’s like speeding – when there’s a cop there nobody speeds; when he or she leaves, everyone starts to speed again. We have to address the issue and try to control the issue.”
On leadership: “I like to push decisions down to the lowest level and get feedback. With disciplinary matters, I try to get all the facts I can and then I switch hats and become authoritarian. But the key is communication.”
On Summit’s biggest danger: “One thing that truly scares me is … a wildland fire. The problem will become more exacerbated as more brown trees appear due to the beetle kill. One lightning strike in populated areas like Frisco or Wildernest … we’re going to have our hands full.”
On the department’s biggest challenge: Employee retention (an ongoing problem, due to low pay). “If we have a core group of people, we will put deputies on the street that have seen it all. They will be stable and mature.”
On retaining employees: “In Summit County, pay is always in the top five, but (we can) also make people excited to come to work by training them and give them tools to do the job.”
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