Sheriff completes management lineup changes
~ by Rick Langenberg ~
Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell has opted for a familiar veteran in making probably the most important selection for his revamped management team.
As a result, John Gomes, a veteran of the Woodland Park Police Department and several other agencies in the region, will start this week as the sheriff’s right-hand man. He will reoccupy the undersheriff post that he previously held under former sheriff Mike Ensminger. Ensminger abruptly resigned last May to take a job in Jefferson County, and Gomes retired from his position as undersheriff earlier this year.
But his retirement is short-lived.
In an interview with TMJ News, MIkesell cited Gomes’ extensive experience, coupled with his community knowledge and partnerships with many local organizations and law enforcement agencies, as the main reasons for his selection.
“He just brings a lot of experience and knowledge to the job,” said Mikesell, in announcing his appointment last week. “John is just a quality person. He has strong ties to the community. I am real happy to have John on board.”
Gomes, who served as the second-in-command for the Woodland Park Police Department for years, sports more than 35 years of law enforcement experience. Besides his previous involvement with the Woodland Park Police and Teller County Sheriff’s Department, he also worked with the Colorado State Patrol, the Air Force Academy, and also served as a key representative of an anti- drugs and narcotics vice squad unit based in the Pikes Peak region.
Plus, the sheriff conceded that Gomes is quite familiar with the fiscal challenges facing the office and the area’s political dynamics. Mikesell has announced his candidacy as sheriff for the next four-year term for the 2018 election. Mikesell, a Republican, is considered the predominant front-runner in the sheriff’s race.
But sheriff races can get contentious, based on past trends. And if Mikesell is somehow defeated, then another sheriff would probably pick another undersheriff.
As a result, Mikesell spent much time considering the pick for this position, and opted for a familiar veteran. Ironically, Gomes was one of the few high-ranking former or current officers with the agency that didn’t seek the Teller sheriff appointment, when Ensminger called it quits. Last spring, the county commissioners had to appoint a new sheriff out of a list of 15 contenders. Mikesell was selected by an unanimous vote.
A complete slate
With the selection of Gomes as undersheriff, the sheriff’s management team is now complete. In June, Mikesell announced the selection of Stan Bishop, a long-time veteran of the agency, as the head jail commander, and Greg Couch, a veteran of the District Attorney’s Office, as the patrol commander. In addition, Steve Steed, who runs the county’s office of emergency management, will be more involved with the sheriff department, according to Mikesell. With the new commanders, coupled with the sheriff and undersheriff, the agency offers more than 100 years of law enforcement experience alone with its top officials. The sheriff himself is a long-time resident of the area, and worked for the department for close to 20 years, serving a variety of roles.
The sheriff believes Gomes will help boost the goals of making the agency more community-minded and will strive to re-open opportunities for volunteers, such as a local posse group. In addition, he wants to increase partnerships with other agencies and volunteer organizations, such as Teller Search and Rescue.
“We work for the people,” said the sheriff, in outlining his prime philosophy, in a previous interview, shortly after he was appointed as Teller’s head lawman. “Law enforcement supports the community I want our deputies to be viewed as the friendly neighbors down the street, and not just to be viewed as cops.”
Mikesell also has made efforts to improve relations with the local media.
The sheriff believes these efforts will help create more of a family-like, team atmosphere. He also wants Gomes to assist in the goal of retaining deputies more.
During the previous administration, the agency was hampered by a record amount of turnover, which created much tension and sparked a score of lawsuits. The sheriff contends that a natural nutrition rate can’t be avoided due to more competitive salaries in Colorado Springs and El Paso County.
But with a better family-like working relationship, he hopes to stem much of this turnover that occurred in the past. “This is great place to live and work,” said Mikesell.
Gomes began working with the sheriff’s department on Aug. 7.