Wiggins to lead state’s sheriffs as new president of organization, aims to work closely with police chiefs
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County law enforcement will be well represented at the state level with the recent election of Sheriff Garrett Wiggins as president of the County Sheriffs of Colorado organization.
Starting his 10th year as sheriff, Wiggins was elected by his peers during this month’s County Sheriffs of Colorado conference.
“As the president, I work hand-in-hand and side-by-side with the executive director to carry out the goals for 2020,” Wiggins said. “It really is an honor to serve our citizens. Serving as president is something I look forward to this year.”
The organization’s mission, according to its website, is to provide education and professional assistance and promote unity to enable the sheriffs to best serve and protect the people of the state of Colorado.
This month’s conference was unique as it was held jointly with the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police conference.
Wiggins said he worked closely with Steamboat Springs Police Chief Cory Christensen to include the state’s police chiefs as part of a commitment for all Colorado law enforcement to work more closely together. Christensen is set to become the president of the Association of Chiefs of Police later this year.
“When you really look at what we do, there’s not a whole lot of difference in what police chiefs and sheriffs do other than sheriffs have a jail to run,” Wiggins said. “The big difference is that sheriffs are elected, and chiefs are appointed, but overall, when it comes to enforcing the law, issues that affect police departments also affect sheriff offices.”
It was a goal for Wiggins to work better with police chiefs, and he has been leading by example. A big step in that direction was the creation of the Combined Law Enforcement Center in Steamboat, which houses both the sheriff’s office and police department. It officially opened last summer.
“I believe we have a lot more in common than we have not in common,” Wiggins said of sheriffs and police.
Another important goal for Wiggins is a focus on legislation, something that’s been on the agenda for the sheriff’s organization for the last few years.
The goal, according to Wiggins, is to work with the state legislature to help form bills that are friendly to law enforcement and the communities they serve.
“The legislative issues have been problematic for law enforcement in general for the last few years,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins mentioned the recent red flag bill, which went into effect Jan. 1, as a piece of legislation not specifically in tune with law enforcement.
“The red flag (law) has definitely got some issues with it,” he said. “Last year, we were working right toward the end of the legislative session to make some modifications to the red flag bill, and it didn’t appear that the bill drafters or legislators wanted to take the time to come up with a bill or law that really made sense.”
It was passed as it was, he said.
“We want to be more proactive,” he explained. “We would like to get in on the drafting of some of these bills, so it doesn’t always look like we’re in opposition.”
It’s better to work together to find solutions to societal problems rather than making it into a partisan political issue, he said, “and passing bills that are going to be problematic.”
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The city of Craig in January settled a lawsuit alleging excessive force against two officers over a 2018 tasing incident, the second civil rights complaint of its type filed against police force members since July.