Moffat County Sheriff-elect Tim Jantz announced Wednesday his choice for undersheriff, a selection that could represent a first in the county's 96-year history.
Charlene Abdella, a former juvenile detective and Drug Awareness Resistance Education officer with the Craig Police Department, has accepted the job. She could be, according to county officials, the first woman to serve as undersheriff in county history.
"We have a really good working relationship," Jantz said. "I have total confidence in her."
Abdella, an owner of Pro Image Photography, was hired by the police department in 1989 to work as a dispatcher. She later became a reserve officer, then a full-time patrol officer and worked her way up the ranks to become a detective.
She has been out of law enforcement for 10 years.
"I missed law enforcement after I left," Abdella said. "In a lot of ways, it was the most meaningful thing in my life."
Jantz, a Republican, defeated two challengers in the Nov. 7 general election to earn the sheriff's position. He will be sworn into office Jan. 9.
Officials from the Moffat County Sheriff's Office and the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder's Office said they thought Abdella would be the first woman to serve as undersheriff. Dan Davidson, a local historian and Museum of Northwest Colorado director, concurred.
"I'd certainly agree with it," Davidson said. "I'm going off memory, but I'd say the same thing. ... That's been a male-dominated (field). I can't imagine that there has ever been a woman undersheriff. Certainly there has never been a woman sheriff."
Abdella said the combination of her being out of law enforcement for the last decade and being a woman might cause some to be surprised at her ascension to undersheriff. However, she said she's up to any challenges the job may have.
"I've done my best work under pressure," Abdella said. "I like challenges."
She will oversee administration of the jail and patrol units, as well as perform various administrative tasks and help run day-to-day operations.
Jantz said another candidate for undersheriff turned down the job. Abdella then became his top choice.
He said Abdella's selection conforms with his campaign pledge to pick an undersheriff who is outside the roster of current or former sheriff's office administrators. It also meets the public's wish for a new direction.
"That's what the community has asked for -- for (us) to protect and serve and be involved (in the community)," he said. "I really just hope people give us a chance."
Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.