Eagle County sheriff candidates weigh in on DUIs, pot shops
July 31, 2010
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – For the first time in his two terms as Eagle County sheriff, Joe Hoy faces a challenge from within his own party heading into the primary election. His Republican rival in the Aug. 10 mail-in election is a familiar face around the sheriff’s office. Deputy Charles Wolf is vying for his boss’s job – a position sure to have its challenges as the county trims its budget.
A 38-year-old Eagle resident, Wolf has 13 years’ experience in law enforcement and joined the sheriff’s office in 2008.
“I get told all the time my job is to go out into the community and solve a problem, so if I see things I can do better at the office, why wouldn’t I attempt to do them better?” he said.
Hoy will be defending a job he loves. An Army veteran, the 63-year-old Edwards resident has been with the sheriff’s office since the late ’80s.
“I wanted to go for a third term because I know what we’re facing in the next couple of years and I have the experience,” he said. “I’ve been tested, or seasoned, by my first two terms. I understand the challenges that we’re going into and I’m not ready to hang it up.”
Here, the candidates address some of the questions on voters’ minds.
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1. Why should Eagle County residents vote for you?
Joe Hoy: As your sheriff, I have a proven record of leading a large and complex organization, responding to the needs and concerns of our citizens among whom I have lived for over 23 years, enforcing the laws and jailing criminals, negotiating and implementing a tight budget and working with the County Sheriffs’ Association to bring the best law enforcement practices to Eagle County. I have the experience that counts and the leadership that works.
Charles Wolf: Eagle County citizens should vote for me because they deserve a pro-active police officer in charge of the chief law enforcement agency in the county. I will increase collaboration with all emergency service agencies and the municipalities within the county to enhance citizen safety. I will ensure the sheriff’s office operates within the budget and will eliminate redundant practices within the agency so that we better serve the citizens of Eagle County.
2. What changes, if any, would you make to the current policy on jailing drunk driving suspects?
Joe Hoy: I trust my deputies to use good judgment and jail any suspect who reflects a level of belligerence and recklessness that may pose a threat to our community or themselves. Jailing all DUI suspects can create a potentially dangerous condition if it requires a deputy to leave their patrol sector for an hour or more during a critical period. And of course, even though a suspect may not be jailed immediately, he or she will still have to face DUI charges in court and face the consequences, including jail time.
Charles Wolf: There will be a county policy to arrest and bring drunk drivers to jail. It’s been said that law enforcement’s job is not to punish people, and I agree. Being arrested and taken to jail is a consequence, not a punishment. As law enforcement, it is our job to ensure the safety of our citizens. Bringing people to jail who have already shown a disregard for other’s safety by choosing to drink and drive helps to achieve that goal.
3. What are your personal views on medical marijuana dispensaries? Given those views, how would you intend to enforce the laws governing dispensaries?
Joe Hoy: Medical marijuana is the law of the land. My personal views – or those of my deputies – are not relevant to what the voters have approved. I do have concerns, which I have publicly stated, that the compassionate motivations that led to the legalization of medical marijuana dispensaries have created some unanticipated and negative consequences. However, my job as sheriff is to enforce the laws and guidelines set forth by the legislatures and that is exactly what I intend to do.
Charles Wolf: My concern with medical marijuana is the lack of accountability in the individuals who can open a dispensary and the current lack of regulations. If it is classified as medical marijuana then why isn’t it prescribed by typical medical doctors and given out by a pharmacist like other medical drugs? As a certified law enforcement officer for Eagle County, I uphold the medical marijuana law the same as every other law in the Colorado State Statutes.
4. Eagle County officials have asked each department to whittle down expenses to 2005 levels by 2012. For the sheriff’s office, this could mean cutting up to $2.5 million from the budget. What things would you look to cut and why?
Joe Hoy: My job right now is to provide the very best level of service in an extremely serious financial climate. The best way to reduce our expenses is to focus on the essential areas of law enforcement that address public safety and reduce or eliminate other programs. To make sure we are reflecting the priorities of our citizens, I have established a non-partisan citizen’s committee to look carefully at every line item in our budget and to recommend cuts in non-essential areas.
Charles Wolf: I will be looking at what impact the cuts will have on the community and the sheriff’s office as a whole. I will be looking to maximize efficiency and reduce job redundancy but I will not compromise service to the public and community. I will not use employee layoffs to balance and maintain the budget. High department turnover including layoffs and low morale are costly mistakes both to the sheriff’s office and to the community.
5. Does TV and video game time as a reward for prisoners amount to pampering?
Joe Hoy: No. As anyone who has visited our jail will see, serving time in the detentions center is no vacation and when prisoners enter our jail they know they have lost the essential freedoms we enjoy as Americans. Inmates have no privacy whatsoever. There have been significant advances in the theories and practices of running a safe, efficient and effective jail. Providing some diversion such as television is part of that practice, along with being required by law.
Charles Wolf: I didn’t realize there should be rewards for prisoners other than reduction of sentences for good behavior. People in jail have committed a crime, not earned a vacation at a recreation center that includes video games and Netflix. I am not proud to hear that people say, “If you have to go to jail, you’d want to do your time in Eagle County.” This is an insult and a disservice to the victims of crime and to our taxpayers.
Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.