Kremmling police chief announces retirement; fate of police department comes into question | SkyHiNews.com

Kremmling police chief announces retirement; fate of police department comes into question

Kremmling Police Chief Scott Spade announced his retirement Wednesday night, taking some local residents by surprise. Spade's retirement, along with the expected retirement of Officer Bob Dillon, now puts the fate of the police department in question.

"It's been a great experience," said Spade. "My wife and I raised our two daughters during my time here, and before that I was a business owner."

Spade said working with the community has been a great experience, something he will always treasure, "but when things present themselves and there's other opportunities out there, I would be foolish not to look at them." Spade told Sky-Hi News on Thursday that he will leave Kremmling to move to Washington to pursue a number of opportunities, though he declined to go into detail.

Spade joined the Kremmling Police Department in 1993, leaving for a brief spell in 2002. He was named chief in 2004.

"I've enjoyed my time here," he said of his tenure in Kremmling. "I've gotten to know the community members. It's a fantastic community. They've been very supportive of me over the years and I really appreciate that."

The timing of Spade's decision could potentially have far-reaching effects on the future of the town's police department, especially with Dillon expected to retire at the end of April.

As the town prepares to have its four-man department cut in half, all options are being weighed, including dissolving the department entirely.

Just as Spade announced his retirement during the meeting, the Grand County Sheriff's Office entered into early discussions on potentially taking over law enforcement operations for the town, effectively closing its police department, with Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin attending the meeting at the request of Kremmling Mayor Tom Clark.

Those discussions, however, are at a very preliminary stage, cautioned Kremmling Town Manager Mark Campbell, and no decisions have yet been made.

"We're pretty much just doing our due diligence, and checking up on things," Campbell indicated. "We're going to be a couple officers down, and that's why we're looking into it … there's really not been a lot of detail discussed, just things like price points. It was more of a comparison, and we're exploring all avenues at this point."

Campbell acknowledged that the decision is not solely based upon numbers and that the town will be weighing "local control," availability and level of service along with financial aspects while making a decision.

While the sheriff's office is not actively pursuing the proposition, according to Lt. Dan Mayer, it is prepared to take over law enforcement operations in the area if that's what the town decides.

Mayer said that if the town decides to turn operations over to the sheriff's office, they would likely have to hire about four new deputies to handle the increased workload. He also noted that the sheriff's office could likely provide better resources from a manpower and investigative standpoint than the current police department.

"If the town decides to do this, we will make it work and we will do a good job at it," said Mayer. "But in no way, shape or form are we trying to sell them on it. It would be a challenge, but it would be an opportunity to work more with the west end and to build a better relationship between the sheriff's office and the people who live in Kremmling."