By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
Chuck Warner, who has been Chief Investigator for the Moffat County Sheriff's Office for almost three years, is leaving the department on Friday. Warner has been involved in law enforcement since 1980, working with the Craig Police Department full-time from 1985 until he joined the Sheriff's Office on Jan. 12, 1999.
"I've seen Craig go from a boomtown to what is now a very nice place to live," Warner said. "When I first started with the police department, we would have to deal with bar fights with 20 to 30 people duking it out.
"It's been an enjoyable career. I've met a lot of good people on both sides of the law good citizens and good people who have made mistakes. I've made friends with people from all walks of life."
Warner's father was a Sheriff's Deputy in Moffat County and the Craig Town Marshal after moving the family from Missouri in the early-1900's.
The Warner family has lived in Moffat and Rio Blanco County since then, and Warner's move to Fruita is a decision based on family.
Warner's mother recently moved there, his son Josh is a Mesa County Sheriff's deputy who lives in Fruita with his family, and Warner's in-laws are also moving there.
The whole family will be within a mile of each other.
Warner joined the Sheriff's Office after Buddy Grinstead was elected Sheriff, and Grinstead asked Warner to become Chief Investigator.
"I've known Buddy since he came to this area as the D.A.'s investigator," he said. "I have total respect for his philosophies, policies and morality. Buddy's done a tremendous job in this area."
Warner counts his work on the Marie Blee Task Force as a major accomplishment in his career.
Many of the details and facts that were never brought out in the original investigation were discovered.
Marie hasn't been found yet, but investigators have a good idea of what happened that night, he said. The Marie Blee case is also Warner's greatest frustration as he leaves his position.
"Marie's case is the one I most wanted to close before I left," he said. "It will still be worked on, and I have every confidence that Marie's body will be found."
Working undercover with GRAMNET from 1996 until 1999 was another highlight of Warner's career. Those cases were an "eye-opener" on the amount of drugs available in this area, and the magnitude of today's problem of young kids getting involved with drugs, he said.
"I enjoyed the long hair and the beard and looking like a biker," he said. "It's amazing how easily people will sell drugs to an undercover cop."
Warner was a valuable employee for the Sheriff's Office, and had fulfilled all expectations of the department, Grinstead said.
"Chuck fulfilled all expectations, not only in investigations, but also in other aspects of the department," he said. "He also handled his biggest headache the unedited evidence vault. He did a superb job with that. All old evidence, outside of the homicide stuff, will soon be destroyed, per court orders.
"On a personal note, Chuck is a great guy. He did a super job, and will definitely be missed."
Warner's replacement also comes from a family tradition of law enforcement. Sheriff's Office Sergeant K.C Hume has been named the next Chief Investigator.
"K.C. is one of our saviors he has done so much for the Sheriff's Office and our community," Grinstead said. "He spends more time at the office then even I do. I really appreciate his work he's done a tremendous job.
"I have the utmost confidence in K.C.'s ability, desire and dedication to step into Chuck's shoes. He will keep the investigative division running smoothly."
Warner echoed Grinstead's endorsement.
"After working with K.C. for three years, I think he is an excellent replacement for me," he said. "He has tremendous skills as an officer."
Hume was born and raised in Moffat County, and graduated from Moffat County High School. Hume's father, Claus, served as both District Attorney and District Judge in the 14th Judicial District, and he now serves as the Chief Justice of the State Appellate Court.
Hume has served in the Sheriff's Office for eight years, joining the department right after graduating from the law enforcement academy, and has spent his entire career with the Moffat County Sheriff's Office.
"I was lucky enough to be able to apply to this department for an opening that was available right around my graduation, and lucky enough to be hired in the area I grew up in," he said. "It gives me the opportunity to pursue a law enforcement career, and still be able to enjoy Northwest Colorado.
"I'm extremely excited about this promotion, and the opportunities before me."
Hume's wife, Erica, is also from Moffat County. With both of their families living in the area, Hume plans to be in this community for the foreseeable future and beyond.
Hume was instrumental in designing, planning and implementing the technological infrastructure of the Moffat County Public Safety Center. Technology is a new and important tool in law enforcement, Hume said.
In addition to his technology expertise, Hume is involved with numerous aspects of law enforcement, including coordinating the law enforcement academy at the Colorado Northwest Community College, Craig and Rangely campuses, instructor for the officer survival training course for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, DARE education, and the Crime Stoppers program. Hume is also a certified firefighter, Wildland Fire Crew member, chairman of the Crisis Intervention/Community Evaluation team executive committee, vice-chairman of the Advocates Crisis Support Services committee, co-director of the Sheriff' Office Search and Rescue team, and he will complete Emergency Medical Technician training in March.
Hume moved up from patrol to investigations, and briefly was acting Chief Investigator before the administration change in 1999.
"When Buddy came on, I remained in investigations with Chuck, and it's been a pleasure," Hume said. "Every law enforcement officer should have the opportunity to work with such a quality individual.
"Investigations has always been a goal for me, but Chief Investigator is the culmination of years of hard work."