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Sheriff candidates discuss experience, vision

Paul Shockley

Born in the Kansas town of Liberal, raised in Boulder, Republican Dwayne “Buddy” Grinstead said he wants another term as Moffat County sheriff.

And win or lose, Grinstead said the election marks the end of his political ambitions.

“As my wife and kids have told me, this is my last election,” Grinstead said.

Grinstead argues that experience separates him from his opponent.

“It speaks for itself,” Grinstead said. “Without knowledge of law enforcement, you can’t even be an administrator, i.e. a sheriff at a sheriff’s office because you have no knowledge about the process, your duties, or what the roles and responsibilities are.”

Grinstead, 40, began his career in Meeker in 1979, going on ride-alongs with local police for about eight months before being hired as an officer. He received his post-certification in 1983, then took a position as a detention officer with the Routt County Sheriff’s Office. He worked through the ranks to become an investigator, before taking the same job with the 14th Judicial District in 1990, when he also moved his family to Craig. He worked in that role until taking office in 1999. Grinstead said the majority of the department’s manpower issues are tied to budgets; both Moffat County’s tightening finances and scheduled debt payments on the Moffat County Public Safety Center, which opened just over a year ago.

“The county’s financial picture is not a glowing vase of roses,” Grinstead said. “When the Public Safety Center was planned, there were some pretty high revenue figures thrown out that the department was responsible for securing.”

Grinstead said the department now runs about $85,000 short of the $300,000 in revenue targeted for debt repayment this year. Warm bodies in beds at the jail are the primary revenue source, he said.

While Moffat County has hosted inmates from other counties, Grinstead noted that the department is pursuing a contract with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to house illegal immigrants locally.

“If we get that contract, we’ll be able to meet our revenues,” he said.

Grinstead cited growth throughout the county and staffing levels with the sheriff’s office among issues “the county needs to be more firm on.”

“We’re getting a lot of subdivisions built with inadequate roads that don’t meet county specs,” Grinstead said, citing access issues with streets for police and other emergency responders.

“If you call for an ambulance or if it’s a fire and I can’t get up there, how am I suppose to help?” he asked.

Grinstead also said commissioners had promised additional staff at the Moffat County Jail, but, in fact, cut one position.

“It just isn’t true,” Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Rafpopoulos responded to issues Grinstead brought up.

“If it’s 35 acres or more, the developer has the right to subdivide and we can’t do anything about it,” Rafpopoulos said, citing state statute. “We ask them to build to county specifications.”

Commissioners do have final approval for projects as a whole.

Rafpopoulos also said staff levels at the jail were mutually agreed between commissioners and sheriff’s office to be sufficient.

Tight finances aside from bedding, staff and street-width concerns impact patrol levels throughout the county, said Grinstead, who has fielded questions at candidates forums about deputies’ patrols away from Craig.

“Bottom line, it’s a question of dollars,” the sheriff said. “Do I want another deputy to live out in Maybell or farther west, or north of Maybell? Yes. Our calls for service don’t warrant it, but we’re such a large geographic county.”

Grinstead said one current full-time deputy lives in Dinosaur, while a second resides in Maybell. With that second individual, he said the department is working to free up that person’s schedule to avoid trips to Craig, allowing more patrols in Maybell and elsewhere.

Asked about his department’s approach to policing speeders and drunken-driving prevention efforts, he said deputies aren’t required to run radars on county roads. The department has two such devises, he said.

“We encourage them to run radar, but obviously you can’t get everywhere,” he said, adding that a higher priority is given to interaction with the public and the department’s Ranch Watch program. Cases worked by deputies are assigned to deputies that handled the initial calls, he said.

“If they have those three things done, they can get into speed enforcement,” Grinstead said.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.


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