Concerning the Hinsdale
County Sheriff's Office
|FIRSTLY: My name is Deva Winblood and I am engaged
to be married to Deputy Debra Rae Thompson. Therefore, some people
may view my statements here as biased. I grew up here and many
of my friends are people who are unhappy with the current Sheriff's
Department and that I care about a great deal. Thus, I am
getting information from both sides of the fence.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this web page is simply to state a few things that many of people in this community are unaware of. I myself was ignorant of some of these things until I spoke with various law enforcement people around town.
THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE OVER STAFFED: Well, if they are over staffed then I guess they should never have a day off since they are on salary and are not compensated for over time in any way (no comp time). Typically, out of Debra's two days off she will typically have ONE out of those two days where she is not dragged into a sheriff's office meeting or otherwise working. In some cases it is both days. One officer is on call at all time and it is not uncommon for them to be awakened in bed in the middle of the night to rush to the scene of the accident/incident. They (ALL THE OFFICERS) do not dislike this. They expect it and they enjoy their jobs tremendously.
OVERSTEPPING THEIR BOUNDS: This town has a large portion of its population that smoke marijuana in the privacy of their own homes or with friends. The sheriff's office is aware of this and knows who most of them are. There are people that would be happy to see them bust everyone that smoked marijuana and ask the office to do so. If an officer walks up to a house for any reason (even community service related) and marijuana smoke rolls out of the door while they are talking to you THAT is all the probable cause that is needed to get a narcotics related search warrant for that location. In the event of a resident or witness coming forward and presenting a statement or evidence the Sheriff's office then has the probable cause which they may present to the District Attorney. NOTE: they have to have probable cause. EVERYTHING THAT HAS BEEN DONE LATELY, has been done within the confines of the law. If we were anywhere but, Lake City where this has never been done things would be MUCH MUCH WORSE.
THE DUI CHECKPOINT: The only thing I have to address here that I commonly see is the issue of TAX PAYERS money being spent. NOTE the OVER STAFFED section above. The word SALARY means no overtime. The Colorado State Patrol and other officers who came to help were not paid for their help. The BAT MOBILE (breathalyzer vehicle) is FREE. The checkpoint cost nothing. In fact many people approved of it and others did not. Regardless it was a very effective deterrent. I have to wonder on a point about this though. Why did so many people NOT drink that normally would have if they do not drink and drive. I think if you speak to most people who no longer drink they will mention that while they were anti-drinking and driving they still did it themselves once in awhile. Its very simple IF YOU DRINK, DON'T DRIVE. There are plenty of people available to give you a lift. I myself am one of them. However, I am a father and I can tell you I think they are TOO LENIENT on drunk drivers. If someone is caught drunk driving I think they should spend considerable time in jail (months). That may be more effective at preventing it. I may sound harsh but, I seriously HATE to see people drunk driving it makes me very angry. If the laws were not as lenient as they are and a drunk driver killed someone I think they should be taken out an shot. YOU KNOW BETTER. IF THEY STOP YOU AND YOU HAVE NOT BEEN DRINKING THEN YOU HAVE NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. They can't even ask for your insurance when they stop you at a checkpoint. This was happening all over the state. Yes, it would be a nervous situation to be stopped at a checkpoint. I too would be nervous and I do not even drink. However, it is a lot better than what happens when they don't do anything at all. Afterall, we have people complaining about the checkpoint and then the same people say they should be more active and look for drunk drivers rather than using a checkpoint yet they complain about the officers patrolling the bars. How exactly are they supposed to please you people?
DOGS: If Debra is home an the radio is on I typically hear three or more dog complaints just at night when she is home and this is JUST when she is home and the radio happens to be on. PEOPLE they are not looking for your dogs. They are getting a lot of phone calls on a daily basis and when a call is made and it is a TOWN ORDINANCE they HAVE to do their job. You have two opportunities to fix this to your liking A) Convince all the people complaining about dogs to stop complaining (not likely there are a lot of people). B.) Get the town to change the ordinance so, the Sheriff's office does not have an ordinance to enforce.
COMPLAIN: Go complain to the sheriff's office they will listen and they might just teach you something about how things are done in law enforcement. This is probably a better thing to do than by stirring up anger (both for your cause and against it). When you write letters that are partially well thought out and partially based on a total lack of any clue of how certain processes are done it is painfully obvious. While, your intentions were good they were not well researched and usually had false information in them. It was only false because, you knew no better as you did not take the time to find out.
TAX PAYERS MONEY: A large portion of our sheriff's office is funded by GRANTS. The new officer is largely funded by grants. Debra started here on a GRANT.
PUBLIC RELATIONS: When they hired the recent officer it was with the understanding that in the winter months when it is slower Debra will function as a PR officer and will work closely with the schools and attend meetings. She actually began doing this before determining that she had two slipped thorasic vertebrae and taking sick leave. Major surgery. By the time she was back on duty it was summer and no longer the slow season.
NUMBER OF OFFICERS: The summer is busy. On the fourth of July all officers worked. Even though Debra was supposed to be off at five. Me and the family (people visiting that wanted to meet her) were hoping to see her. I saw her for thirty minutes between 5:00 and 5:30. After that things got so busy that all 5 officers and 2 reserve officers were hard pressed to keep up with it all. The week leading up to the fourth of July was incredibly busy. NOW: If you were an officer and it was your career would you accept a job for 3 months out of the year only to be fired for the fall, winter, and spring? They have the same problem. The help is needed though it is not needed as much in the winter thus, the creation of the PR officer mode of operation for Debra.
UNDERSHERIFF ED OWEN: I have gathered from my conversations around town that Ed is one of the main areas of dissatisfaction with many of the people in the public. I have talked to him and seen him in action both on and off duty. I can say he is a nice guy and he knows his job very well. He is helping the deputies a great deal and they all respect how he works with them. He has been talked to about not waving as far as I can tell and it is something he is not used to doing. Give him time. He was brought in during a very active time in the office and expected to do a lot. His family is not here yet and he is. THAT IS HARD. I cannot tell the people investigating his past with their lawyers what they really should be spending their money on but, I can tell you that you are wasting your time.
MARIJUANA: If they were going after the "POT" smokers they could have had a lot of search warrants for this particular substance as they have had ample PROBABLE cause any number of times. The instances where "POT" was found were instances where they were given information or evidence or complaints (i.e. PROBABLE CAUSE) to do something. I have been told if a search warrant is ever issued for something such as a suspected stolen firearm or something and in the process they find drugs or paraphernalia they can then go and get a second warrant to search for these items. So, since neither YOU nor I know what went on in the recent search warrants it is probably BEST if YOU and I keep quiet about our assumptions.
NARCS/WITNESSES: Recently, a young teenager came to my house and told me that he was being threatened by my neighbors behind me and by friends of theirs. They claim that the teenager narced on them with the recent search warrant and that they would be watching him and waiting for him to screw up. FIRSTLY, I know he did not narc. I know who did. It was not me but, if I had seen anything other than "POT" smoking I would have turned you in too!! You don't want to get in trouble DON'T BREAK THE LAW! Being my neighbors and talking to my other neighbors I can tell you that this particular crew had a growing number of complaints in all directions so, they could have been narced on for any reason. Also, mysterious numbers of cars coming and going to the trailer all night, a garage with no car in it but, with lights on it all through the night, covered black windows recently in the garage, and rumors... you add it up. All that was needed in my mind was evidence. If you don't want to take RISKS WITH being busted when you are BREAKING THE LAW then perhaps you should not be so, obvious with what you are doing. At least Colin Gray and the Bag O Seeds band had their band as a reason for all the traffic and cars at all hours of the night. My warning to you is this: if you are already in trouble and being watched do you think it is a good idea to be threatening 15 year old teenage boys?
PROBABLE CAUSE: For those that approve of the recent actions of the sheriff's office. The only way the sheriff's office can get search warrants is with probable cause. If you want to do something about a problem you know of talk to the sheriff's office. They will keep you confidential and no one will know you have helped them. However, they may accuse other people of narcing as they did with the teenage boy above.
ME A NARC: No. I do not tell on my friends for smoking marijuana. If I see you dealing I'll narc on you in an instant. I have informed my friends of this up front. They know this. If any of them deal then they are smart enough not to do it around me.
NO DRUG CORRIDOR: The recent letters stated there is NO DRUG CORRIDOR in Lake City. While I do not think it is as large as some people think it IS THERE and has been there a lot longer than the person who stated it did not exist has lived in Lake City. It is not an avenue to further places. It is large quantities being brought here and disbursed. I had one friend whom I am sad to say is a bit out there these days tell me that he had brought "POUNDS AND POUNDS" of MARIJUANA and he mentioned OTHER THINGS but, did not clarify (as to what these other things were) into Lake City. Tell me it is not there but, then have friends tell you these things.
METHAMPHETAMINE LAB: Dallas claimed they stink to high heaven. I would not know. I have heard the lab may be in Montrose and the items being brought over here. I have heard it is right under the cops noses... yet, they cannot do anything without probable cause.
LEGAL: The Hinsdale County Sheriff's Office followed the letter of the law and even bent in the favor of marijuana smokers in many instances. If your arguments had any legal justification that was anti-constitutional (read the fourth amendment) then you might have a reason to complain. However, it comes down to a community that has a large population of marijuana smokers (and I love you all, I really do) who are paranoid that the cops are out to get them. It will take more than smoking pot to get the sheriff's department to investigate you. Your paranoia is the problem unless you truly have something to hide in which case you need to read on because, you guys are likely to bury yourself with your current course of action.
RECALL: Rumor is the meeting on Sunday (which I will not attend due to being viewed as an outsider in this issue) is to recall the Sheriff. Firstly, you will need 50 or so votes to start the recall process which should be simple to get. However, you will need more than 2/3s of the voters to vote for it in order for it to go through. I am sorry to say that even though there are a lot of angry people (for the wrong reasons) you do not add up to 2/3s of the voters in Lake City. Finally, if you do manage to get a recall read on as to what happens.
AFTER RECALL: Bill is removed as sheriff. Ed immediately fills the position of sheriff without your input or say so until another sheriff can be brought in. When a sheriff is brought in they will be from OUTSIDE of Lake City knowing even less of you than the current office and just as inclined to do their job as the current office. You REALLY need to read on about the difference between a sheriff's office and a police office it was surprising to me and it is REALLY important when you consider a sheriff being brought in from outside.
POLICE DEPARTMENT: Town council approval needed before firing/hiring an officer.
SHERIFF'S OFFICE: in most departments: Deputies/Undersheriffs work AT THE PLEASURE OF THE SHERIFF and sign a paper and state an oath saying as much. They can be fired or hired with no reason or provocation by the sheriff. What typically happens when a sheriff is brought in from outside is that all existing officers are fired and the new sheriff comes in with officers they know. In Lake City, this means getting a whole new sheriff's department with officers who do not know you and you do not know them. They have a job to do and they do it with no leniency. This also means that if there are currently any officers you do like they will likely be out of a job and replaced by someone you do not know.
UNHAPPY WITH THE SHERIFF: A recall will bury those of you that are concerned about the marijuana as an entirely knew office staff would probably have no personal knowledge of your service to the community and they would just do their job. Which means things would likely be much worse for you. The proper steps are to wait until voting and vote a new sheriff in if that is what you think is needed. Then at least you will likely get someone who knows Lake City and the people of Lake City and that sheriff would have the opportunity to know the existing officers and retain some if they so choose. However, what is the sheriff's job? Has our current sheriff been doing what we hired him to do? I think the answer is YES. I personally think you need to research your grievances and make an intelligent well thought out decision rather than being ruled by mob thought (going with the crowd you happen to be with at the time) and by passion.
I'M NOT SURPRISED: Debra and I have been speaking for awhile and have been aware of the growing anger/resentment in some portions of the Lake City population. She repeatedly told me "it is going to get worse." They have a job to do. Your arguments are not based on any legal reasoning... the actions of the sheriff's office ARE based on legal issues and the oath they took pertaining to the responsibilities of their job.
COMMUNITY: I moved back to Lake City because, I love the community and the people. I could care less whether you smoke marijuana or not. I do care about the drugs that are harder than that. If I catch you drinking and driving I will crucify you in any way I can I don't care who you are. If you need my help I will give it. If you offer help I will take it. However, if by your actions you endanger the community or the people I love in this community (which drunk driving does) then I will do everything in my power to see that you cannot do it again. To this ends if I narced on a bunch of people using methamphetamines (I don't even know what they look like *smile*) I would be VERY pissed at the sheriff's office if they did not do anything about it since that IS their job. However, that seems to be what most of the people who are complaining would prefer... a deaf and dumb sheriff's office.
GESTAPO: Not even close. Gunnison is worse than here. Try living in the city :(. Or possibly try a RECALL and you will be more likely to find out what this actually is.
ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE RECENTLY: IF SO DO THIS
A) Don't drink and drive
B) If you are going to speed or drive illegally then don't have drugs in your car!!! That is plain stupid.
C) If you don't like the dog tickets talk to the town and have the ordinance changed. (not the sheriff's decision) In the meantime, I guess you will have to stay within the ordinance.
D) If you want four wheelers in Lake City talk to the town and have the ordinance changed. (not the sheriff's decision)
E) If you want to do drugs then don't do stupid things to give probable cause that cannot be ignored and DO NOT piss off your neighbors.
F) Talk to the sheriff's office... they cannot change unless the information is given directly to the sheriff.
G) Recall the sheriff at your own risk... things will be worse.
H) Don't like the check point? Fill out the card and turn it back in. If you don't all they will have are the positive responses they have received.
I) Find someone better to run for sheriff next term.
HERE ARE SOME OTHER WEB SITES SHOWING THAT THIS GOES ON ELSEWHERE TOO:
If you made it this far I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read my rantings and ravings even if you do or do not agree with them.
Deva Winblood - Future Wave Computer Solutions