Commissioners cite number of open sheriff’s office positions as reason for not funding new school resources assistant
Routt County Council of Commissioners again rejected Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins’ request to add another deputy who would serve in schools, as the council recognized the multiple open positions already in the office .
Wiggins has already requested additional funding twice – once in May and again earlier this fall during the county’s budgeting process – but both times commissioners have refused to approve the funding.
On Tuesday, Wiggins approached the board to seek clarification on why the new post was turned down and to ask commissioners to reconsider their decision.
“Safety at school has always been a top priority for me, and it will continue to be for as long as I can afford it, which is extremely difficult at the moment as we have lost many employees,” Wiggins told the commissioners.
“I’m not going to stop asking,” Wiggins added. “When we ask for something, it’s not that we ask because we want to flesh out our situations; it’s because I think it’s necessary.
The commissioners said that even if they approved the funding, it seems unlikely that Wiggins will be able to hire MPs for the current seven positions plus this one. That would essentially tie up the county’s money in a planned expense that it probably wouldn’t make next year.
The district has several buildings outside the city limits of Steamboat and the jurisdiction of the Steamboat Springs Police Department, which provides a school resources manager based at Steamboat Springs High School.
The addition of the Sleeping Giant School this fall prompted Wiggins to apply for the assistant position, but Strawberry Park Elementary School and Steamboat Springs Middle School are also beyond the city limits.
In May, the commissioners turned down the additional post for several reasons. Corrigan and Commissioner Tim Redmond both said they had a problem with funding a position for the district when it already has the power to tax and because the county does not do the same with other districts. County.
During this discussion, the Commissioners also discussed the effectiveness of school resource officers, although this was not the reason for the denial. Wiggins said part of the reason he struggled with denial was that it seemed Commissioners were ignoring his decades of law enforcement experience.
“I may have expressed philosophical questions about this,” Corrigan said Tuesday, in what he said was an apology to Wiggins. “Frankly, it’s not for me to make those kinds of judgments, and I would defer to you as the sheriff with your experience.”
Corrigan also said he would prefer requests for full-time staff to go through the traditional budget process that takes place every fall. Wiggins again applied for the job when discussing the Sheriff’s Office budget with Commissioners in September.
Steamboat Superintendent Brad Meeks joined Wiggins before Commissioners on Tuesday, praising the School Resource Officer program and praising Wiggins for providing an assistant in schools this fall, even without the extended funding. .
“We really enjoy working with (the school resource assistant) and appreciate having the (assistant) full time,” Meeks said. “We would very much like to continue the ORS with the county, whether it’s within the sheriff’s existing budget or if it’s something we have to work out with the sheriff, like we’ve done with the city.”
The district funds about half of Steamboat’s school resources manager, Meeks said, mostly paying for time spent on campus during the week, a new arrangement this year because the department had traditionally taken over all of the student’s salary. ‘officer.
Redmond said the decision is really about balancing limited resources.
“It’s hard to just sit in the situation, have people make good requests and then have a finished situation to deal with,” Redmond said. “There are things we couldn’t do for the construction department, there were things we couldn’t do for roads and bridges, and everyone takes a hit.
County commissioner Beth Melton said Wiggins should continue to apply for the job and potentially bring in more data on the impact that another deputy would have.
Wiggins said he will continue to recruit a deputy from schools when he can afford it, although that deputy will have to leave school responsibilities if necessary for patrol calls.
“If calls come in and we need him, he just has to drop what he’s doing and come,” Wiggins said. “We don’t have much staff at the moment, but it’s a huge priority for me. … As long as I can afford to keep doing it, I will.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email [email protected]