Glitchy DMV systems, hiker deaths, understaffed jail — just some of the issues facing Summit County
The quarterly meeting of Summit County’s elected officials took place Tuesday morning during the county commissioners’ weekly work session. Joining the commissioners at the meeting were county Clerk & Recorder Kathleen Neel, Coroner Regan Wood, Treasurer Bill Wallace, Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons and District Attorney Bruce Brown. The discussion touched on a wide range of challenges facing the county.
Neel started the meeting explaining that glitches in the newly updated DMV system have forced her office to manually enter online renewals. That’s become a drain on her office’s resources.
“My advice to people is to not renew their cars online for a while,” Neel said. “For the interim, we’re asking people to renew the old-fashioned way, by coming to the office and submitting the check or mailing.”
Neel also reported that of the around 1,700 unaffiliated ballots cast in this year’s primary, the first to allow unaffiliated voters to vote in either Democratic or Republican primary, only 54 had to be invalidated because they submitted ballots for both parties.
Brown pointed out that voting in both primaries was technically a crime. While understanding that they were likely mistakes caused by the new primary system in the state, Brown said it was still the DA’s duty to investigate and at least notify the 54 double-voters that their votes were invalidated and make the double-voters sign something that says they won’t do it again.
Coroner Regan Wood informed the board about the three hiker deaths the county handled over the past week. Each death requires individual attention and survivor support, and Wood got FitzSimons’ approval in allowing members of her staff to join the sheriff’s office in consulting with their psychologist, Dr. David Christiansen, for the seminars he offers on how to deal with trauma on the job.
Reporting on his office, FitzSimons said that the Summit County Rescue Group is “whooped” after an extremely busy week, and that he had brought in the police psychologist to speak to them as they had been dealing with a lot of death lately.
FitzSimons also reported that calls for service for the sheriff’s office are up 12 percent over last year. The office had already seen a jump in calls for service the year before. FitzSimons said that while his office remains fully staffed for operations, the jail is understaffed and a couple of time-consuming calls can leave his office overstretched on all fronts.
“We have to pay attention to the infrastructure,” FitzSimons said. “Our county is exploding, as are the towns. We can’t wait on the state or the feds to take care of the problem. Winter is coming and we’re going to get a whole lot more calls.”
FitzSimons went on to explain how there’s also been an increase in traffic citations, and complaints about speeders on Highway 9 between Heeney and Silverthorne, as well as the section between Frisco and Breckenridge. FitzSimons said Colorado State Patrol was in the same boat when it came to a lack of resources to devote to this area.
Brown reported that the district attorney’s office was dealing with a number of different cases, such as with the couple who started the Lake Christine Fire with tracer rounds. At the moment, Brown said that the highest charge the couple is facing is starting a fire that endangered people. Brown also mentioned how the 5th Judicial District has been chosen for a pilot program to reduce the jail population by issuing citations for lower-level felonies instead of requiring arrests, which takes officers off their beat and wastes resources the county is already short on.
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