Meet the candidate: Brett Schroetlin for Grand County sheriff
June 13, 2014
Name: Brett Schroetlin
Occupation: Detective at Fraser-Winter Park Police Department
Education: Police Academy and 1,600-plus hours of continued education and training.
Number years in Grand County: 12
Original hometown: Loveland, Colo.
Family: Sara, Tyler, Ryan
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Pets: Dogs Astra, Argo, Echo
1. Why do you seek the position of Grand County Sheriff?
Law enforcement as a whole and the office of sheriff continue to change on a daily basis. The sheriff and his staff must stay informed about new trends and adapt and overcome to what is presented. Now more than ever, law enforcement and the community must work together to make our cities, county, state, and country a safe place to live and raise our children. I believe that my law enforcement experience, training, and education, especially in the area of community policing, make me a viable sheriff candidate to lead the Grand County Sheriff's Office into law enforcement of the future. A sheriff needs to be a visible, uniformed position that is involved in the community, which you will see under my watch. I also want to focus on increased employee morale, retention, training, and partnerships with other law enforcement and emergency services agencies. Many people over the course of the campaign have asked what my reason is for running? Besides a personal goal for this position, I also believe it is necessary to do the right thing at the right time, and now is the right time for, "A new direction" in Grand County law enforcement.
2. Strengths and experience you bring to the job:
My passion for law enforcement started when I was about 10 years old. I then became involved in law enforcement as a Police Explorer Scout in 1992, and attended to Police Academy in 1999. I have been a state certified Peace Officer since 2000. During that time I have served as a Police Officer, Deputy Sheriff, Deputy Coroner, Investigator, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Commander, and Acting Chief of Police. During my career, I have also served as a DARE instructor, K9 handler, on the Grand County Drug and Underage Alcohol Task Forces, the Northwest Colorado Environmental Crimes Task Force and Patrol Strike Team. I have over 1600+ hour of specialized training. My entire career has been focused on the "Community Policing" philosophy, which focuses on citizens and law enforcement working together to make a difference in our communities. This partnership is imperative for any community and is something I will continue to devote myself to on a regular basis. As a result of my proven community policing involvement, I have been awarded the Grand County Hometown Hero, Grand Futures Community, and Hospice Hero awards.
3. What is the biggest challenge to law enforcement in Grand County and why?
Law enforcement isn't the same as it was 25 years, five years, or even one year ago. It is an ever-changing profession, which constantly requires us to study, train, adapt, and overcome to the various issues that arise. This is increasingly difficult due to the current economy and new crime trends we are noticing, such as the increase in computer and technology crimes, and the ongoing evaluation and enforcement of how drugs and alcohol are affecting our community and other communities across Colorado and the U.S. The only way to combat these new trends is for a sheriff and his deputies to actively be involved with other law enforcement, government agencies, and the community, and take a stance that this type of criminal behavior is not acceptable in Grand County. Crime is inevitable, but as a team we can do our best to make Grand County the premier place to live, raise a family, start a business, or vacation. As your sheriff, I will commit myself to leading this fight.
4. Describe your approach to marijuana enforcement. And what are the inherent challenges?
The voters of Colorado chose to allow medical and recreational marijuana in our state. It is the sheriff's and other police officer's responsibility to enforce the laws that are set by our state. It is our duty to treat this matter as we would with any other potential criminal incident and act based on probable cause and not on bias towards any specific law. At this point in time, law enforcement is taking a "cautious" approach towards marijuana while we wait for further clarification from the state government; however as a community, we must remember that increased drug usage and distribution also results in increased crime such as theft, fraud, burglaries, robberies, and embezzlement, as people seek to support their drug addictions. The sheriff and local law enforcement must take a unified approach with the community to ensure that the new drug trends do not affect our community negatively.
5. Please name a certain event in which you were proud of how the sheriff's department handled the situation and tell us why.
In 2013, Grand County and the Fraser Valley hosted the Snowball Music Festival. This was a new and challenging event to the county and tasked law enforcement and emergency services. Due to the possible increase in criminal activity, traffic issues, and drug and medical related incidents, this event required extensive preparation, planning, and deployment. Law enforcement officers from the Fraser-Winter Park Police Department, Granby Police Department, Kremmling Police Department, Grand County Sheriff's Office, and Colorado State Patrol, in addition to Grand County EMS and East Grand Fire worked this event. In the eyes of emergency services, despite the negativity associated with this type of concert, the event was a success as we worked collaboratively as one and with the community. Working this event myself, I constantly heard from several individuals that the law enforcement and emergency services presence and actions at this event was one that our county and residents should be proud of and as your sheriff, I will strive to make sure that all of these events and the daily actions of my staff are a positive reflection of our county.
6. Please name a certain event in which you feel the sheriff's department should have acted differently in a situation and tell us why.
The sheriff's office has several unfilled positions at the current time and has struggled to maintain appropriate staffing levels in the past. Many qualified applicants are being selected to work at other agencies rather than Grand County due to the lengthy and stagnant hiring process, and many people have reported they never even heard back on their applications. This lack of hiring is also resulting in dangerous staffing levels in the patrol division, which in turn delays the time and quality of the response provided. This is an absolute must that needs corrected immediately before a deputy's or civilian's life is jeopardized. All agencies and businesses struggle from time-to-time with staffing and personnel issues; however, having an effective working relationship with other local agencies, not being afraid to ask for help, and deputization of local law enforcement would help solve this problem.
7. Are there ways the various law enforcement agencies in the county can work together more effectively? Please explain.
The Grand County Sheriff's Office has jurisdictional law enforcement responsibility across the entire county. Each municipality has their local law-enforcement and we also have state and federal agencies in the area. If elected, I will deputize all local law enforcement officers. This will increase the cohesiveness of county-wide law enforcement in several ways and be a win-win for both municipal and county residents. This will increase staffing and resources and ensure that all officers and deputies are trained in the same fashion, so they can work better during events that arise. You as a citizen will also see better response times by law enforcement.
8. What do you think the law-enforcement priorities are according to most Grand County citizens? How do you know?
The community wants a partnership with law enforcement and law enforcement needs this partnership with the community for it to be successful. For the last several months, I have repeatedly heard from citizens from all over the county that they would like to get to know their deputies better at a personal level. These personal relationships are critical as it will make for a more successful resolution on future critical incidents. This has proven very effective in law enforcement in Colorado and across the country. In order for this to occur, we need to work on increasing employee morale and retention. We need to also work towards equal patrol coverage and visibility throughout the county, and get away from the thoughts that a large portion of rural, western Grand County isn't adequately represented.
9. What do you think makes a good leader?
Anyone can be a manager, however, it takes a quality individual to be a leader. A leader is someone who first and foremost is able to obtain the respect of their staff and others despite any differences that occur. As a leader, especially in law enforcement, there are times when you must make a decision that is not popular amongst your staff. However, an effective leader will be one who will take the time to explain the reasoning for these decisions and allow for the betterment of all in the end. A leader must also have the confidence, honesty, integrity, ability to inspire, communication abilities and overall personal and professional skill set to lead others by example. I have always believed in the "Service above Self," and "Servant Leadership" philosophies, and have personally demonstrated that to my co-workers and the citizens on a daily basis.
10. Give examples of how the Grand County Sheriff's Office will be transparent under your leadership.
If elected as your sheriff, I will open the lines of communication between the agency and the community. If we have this positive, two-way communication channel in place prior to the occurrence or suspected occurrence of any negative events, it will assist in a successful resolution for all. Unfortunately, as humans we all make mistakes; however, these mistakes turn into larger issues when communication fails or we attempt to omit or falsify what had occurred. We must admit and learn from our mistakes and move forward for ourselves individually, the agency, and the community. In addition to having the deputies and I involved in more community events, such as coaching, mentoring and other community action groups, I also intend to have the community involved in the sheriff's office. This will be done through the institution of a volunteer program consisting of Reserve Deputies, Explorer Scouts and the availability of a citizen's academy. This will allow for the community to understand the challenges that law enforcement is facing and how we can work together with a unified understanding of what is best for Grand County.