As Kremmling police chief departs, sheriff’s office steps in |

As Kremmling police chief departs, sheriff’s office steps in

Former Kremmling Police Chief Hiram Rivera (center), meets with the community during his application process in 2020.
McKenna Harford / Sky-Hi News file photo

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office will help with law enforcement while the town of Kremmling looks for an interim police chief, as well as a code enforcement officer, according to officials who spoke at the town’s Oct. 5 board meeting.

Kremmling’s former chief, Hiram Rivera Jr., applied to be the police chief in Eagle, after serving the town since October 2020. He is one of five finalists for the position. Before moving to Kremmling, Rivera served on the Savannah Police Department for over 20 years in a number of roles.

During a Sept. 21 town meeting, Mayor Grover Pryor informed the public of Rivera’s position as a finalist in the meeting but declined to offer more details.

“We don’t discuss personnel matters in public meetings. We respect the chief’s decision to pursue his opportunity,” Pryor said. “Public safety is a priority in this community and on this board; we’re taking steps to ensure this remains a priority. Directions have been given for staff to prepare plans for continuity of police services.”

During a board workshop on Oct. 5, trustees confirm that Rivera’s position was open. However, they did not give details of Rivera’s departure or mention him directly.

For continuity of safety services, the town is partnering with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office through a mutual aid agreement. Town Manager Ashley MacDonald and Sheriff Brett Schroetlin discussed plans to provide consistent law enforcement coverage to Kremmling, on top of their regular duties.   

“We have some current gaps in the workforce of our police services division,” said Macdonald. “So we’ve asked Grand County if they can assist us with a more robust mutual aid agreement. … This is intended to be a very short-term agreement until the interim position is filled.”

The agreement will last for 60 days. Schroetlin elaborated on how his department plans to oversee Kremmling as they also work through low staff levels.

“To be honest, we’re short like everyone else. I certainly don’t have the manpower on duty with my regular staff to assist as much as needs to be assisted,” he said. “Our plan would be to … staff some additional people on their days off to assist with call coverage.”

With the large size of the county, Schroetlin explained it’s difficult to ascertain where his deputies could be working on a given day. To ensure the sheriff’s office will provide enough staff to cover Kremmling, a Memoram of Understanding was made with the town, with the county providing deputies outside their normal schedule.

Currently, Kremmling has two police officers, Bryson Hicks and Kristina Costa, and one police technician, Karla Hassler. The Grand County officers will serve the town in the same capacity as one of the town’s officers.

“For about 70 hours a week, we would be providing coverage,” Schroetlin told the trustees. “We would get someone to be in town to cover (off-duty Kremmling officers). … This puts someone in this area, patrolling this area just as if they were one of your police officers.”

The town approved the agreement with the sheriff’s office and discussed how they plan to fill the gaps in the police department. In addition to interim police chief, they are seeking to fill the code enforcement officer position, which was held by Carlos Villegas until his departure in August.

“After reviewing our current staffing model with our local sheriff and consulting other sources, we will be presenting our revised work chart with the budget this year,” said Macdonald.

This new staffing model will include salaries, benefits and wages for each position. She asked the town for administrative assistance with the process, since law enforcement requires a specialized hiring process.

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