Eagle County Sheriff still loves his job | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Sheriff still loves his job

Vail Daily file photo

EAGLE COUNTY – Joe Hoy still loves his job. That’s why he wants voters to keep him as Eagle County Sheriff for another four years.

Hoy’s been challenged for the top job by fellow Republican and current Eagle County Sheriff’s Deputy Charles Wolf. There’s no Democrat running right now, so the August primary election may determine who holds the job next.

After a military career that included a stint as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, Hoy was living in Colorado Springs when he met his wife, Linda. The couple settled in Eagle County in the late ’80s and Hoy applied for a job at the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.

He said he went into law enforcement out of a sense of duty.

“It may sound corny,” he said. “But I grew up in a military family. I grew up in a town in upstate New York where there was a real sense of patriotism.”

After he was hired, Hoy spent time as a patrol deputy and also started the department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE program, for local school kids. When former Sheriff A.J. Johnson was forced out of office by term limits in 2002, Hoy decided to run for the department’s top job.

“I thought I could do the job,” he said. “But I don’t think anyone really knows the complexity of this job until they do it.”

Hoy’s first year in office was a tough one, marked by the Kobe Bryant rape case, which brought a national media circus to the county courthouse. Charges against Bryant were dropped when the victim in the alleged assault refused to testify.

Hoy said he learned a lot from that experience.

“You need to be thankful you’ve got a good team,” he said. “When things really got hot around here, everyone stuck together… I think it brought us to a new level of professionalism.”

Hoy often returns to the subject of his staff.

“I love the enthusiasm of the folks in the office,” he said. “They’ll go the extra mile to help someone. I love getting calls and e-mails from people who are impressed by our people. Even the people who did something wrong will say they were treated with respect.”

The quality of the staff has made the last several months particularly hard. Depending on how you county, somewhere between six and eight employees have been let go, either through early retirement or layoffs, and some positions are going unfilled.

Hoy worries that the county isn’t done with its hard financial times. That’s another reason he thinks he’s the right man for the job over the next four years.

“There’s a lot of challenges coming that we’re just starting to address,” he said. “It’s no secret that the county’s in a tight place right now.”

The sheriff’s office will need to have good communications with the county commissioners – who ultimately fund the department – to ride out the tough times, Hoy said. While he acknowleged there are some tense conversations, Hoy said his relationship with the commissioners is solid.

Hoy also wants to keep an eye on some developing crime trends.

“We may start to see more crimes involving technology,” he said. “And I’m worried about crimes against children. We may also see more cases with illegal use of legal drugs.”

And, he added, the current expansion of the medical marijuana business in the county is a “can of worms.”

And Hoy said he wants to continue providing programs for area kids. His department is working with local Rotary Clubs on a “Street Survival” driving training program.

In short, he’s not ready to quit.

“I’m still young, I’m in good health,” he said. “I’m not ready to retire.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.

Support Local Journalism