Oak Creek ponders contract

Officials consider collaboration with county Sheriff's Office

— Despite initiating a citizens focus group to hash out the design of a future Oak Creek Police Department, town officials said Friday that Oak Creek still is considering the possibility of contracting with the Routt County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement services.

Since the Oak Creek Police Department lost all of its officers during the past six weeks, the town has relied on the Sheriff's Office for emergency services in town limits. The Oak Creek Town Board has considered the idea of contracting with the Sheriff's Office on a long-term basis, as well as rebuilding the Oak Creek Police Department from scratch.

Oak Creek is exploring all of its options, especially in light of staffing and budget problems the Sheriff's Office is trying to sort through. In September, the Routt County Board of Commissioners instituted a hiring freeze, and commissioners have been battling with Sheriff Gary Wall regarding the department's projected $100,000 budget overage for 2008.

The type of policing Oak Creek's government and citizens eventually decide they want likely will come into play further into the town's decision-making process.

"The Sheriff's Office is doing everything they can for us, but they can't say, 'We're going to be here at 3 o'clock five days a week to run your school speed zones,' because it's just not feasible," Police Commissioner and Trustee Dave Ege said. "We don't begrudge them. They just can't give us the extra help."

"I told them we're not going to take care of their dog complaints, or their code enforcement," Wall said. "But I'm not going to turn my back on anything serious in this county."

The town of Yampa contracts with the Sheriff's Office at what Wall termed a "bargain" rate of about $7,000 a year. However, Wall said the financial side of any contract would have to be worked out between Oak Creek and the county commissioners.

"We have to go through the county to work out a price on anything beyond just emergency services," Mayor J. Elliott said.

The Oak Creek Town Board will review letters of interest for its police focus group at its next regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 13. Elliott appointed trustees Ege and Gerry Greenwood to work with the body.

Internal investigation back

The Town Board also decided Thursday to relaunch an independent investigation into Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman's July 19 arrest by former police Sgt. Erik Foster, as well as former Chief Russ Caterinicchio's subsequent internal investigation into the matter. The town stopped short of finding an agency to take up the investigation after the officers involved resigned Sept. 11.

"I'm of the opinion that the investigation should move forward whether the officers are here or not," Wisecup said. "In the face of a pending lawsuit, a decision of whether there was or was not wrongdoing - that may be our only leg to stand on."

Foster arrested Rodeman, 54, after he said she failed to use a turn signal and fled from police. Police alleged Rodeman ran into her home, which Foster entered before using a Taser to subdue and arrest her on suspicion of misdemeanor charges of eluding police, obstructing a police officer, resisting arrest, driving under the influence, driving under the influence per se and a traffic infraction for failure to signal.

The District Attorney's Office dropped all charges Oct. 1 against Rodeman and two other women who were involved in the incident. The three announced their intention to file a civil suit against the town earlier this month.

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