Grand County sheriff-elect conducts first inter-agency meeting
No one cracked jokes about the new sheriff in town, but during a gathering of about two dozen police officers and first responders in Granby Town Hall on Wednesday, it quickly became obvious a new era of law enforcement is approaching in Grand County.
Organized by Sheriff-elect Brett Schroetlin, the meeting was what is intended to be the first of regular inter-agency gatherings to share and air ideas and grievances.
The chiefs of the Granby, Winter Park-Fraser and Kremmling police departments were present, as were representatives from the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management law enforcement, Grand County Sheriff’s Office, Grand County Search and Rescue, the Grand County Coroner’s Office and fire departments from across the county. Grand County EMS would have been present but had a scheduling conflict, Schroetlin announced.
He said this meeting constituted the first step —”getting everybody in the same room” — toward what he hopes will be greater cooperation among the agencies.
“We want to work together well,” he said of the sheriff’s office after he is sworn in next month. “We don’t know it all. We want some help. … This is a challenge.”
“I really appreciate … what you’re trying to do,” said Granby Police Chief Bill Housley. “We’re really looking forward to working collaboratively.”
Housley said officers on the street generally work well together, but that hasn’t necessarily been the case higher in the ranks.
“The administrative connections between the agencies hasn’t been as good as it could be,” he said. “I really look forward to that changing.”
“That’s been the goal all along,” Schroetlin said.
Winter Park-Fraser Police Chief Glen Trainor praised cooperation among Grand County agencies during emergencies. Despite political and other differences, he said, “Above all else, people work together.”
However, Trainor said he sees a need for an emergency response memorandum of understanding among the agencies to explicitly spell out who is responsible for worker’s compensation and other potentially costly details when personnel from multiple agencies respond in emergency situations, “so we have something formal.”
East Grand Fire Chief Todd Holzwarth echoed that sentiment.. He said it has been wonderful that because the community is relatively small, most responders know each other.
“But we’re beyond that,” he added. “We do need to get these formal agreements. … We’ve been doing it on a handshake.”
Discussions about the county’s dispatch center, wildfire legislation and shared training exercises took place, and representatives from several agencies shared information about current initiatives. Managers from many of the agencies agreed it would be valuable for personnel from all agencies to have a better understanding of procedures and techniques employed by one another.
“A lot it comes down to communication,” Schroetlin said. “We don’t communicate as well as we should.”
Attendees shared emails and other contact information before the gathering adjourned.
Schroetlin will be spending much of the next two weeks at what is known as Sheriff’s Academy, a crash course in operating a sheriff’s office in Colorado.
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Elected officials from Fraser and Winter Park agreed to work together on starting a multijurisdictional housing authority to address workforce housing needs, seeking to put a question on the ballot as early as next year.