Dear Editor:

letter

I want to thank the 250+ persons that attended my barbecue on October 4, 2014. We had a great time thanks to the Johnston family, LaGree’s Food Stores (the owners of Venture Foods in Divide and Cripple Creek), and all the volunteers that helped make this event a great success. Please accept my sincere and heartfelt THANK YOU for your support.

 

During the barbecue, I was asked many questions about my campaign and what I am going to do about the many issues related to the Teller County Sheriff’s Office if elected sheriff. I would like to use this letter to address some of these questions.

 

— “Why are you running as an unaffiliated candidate?

It’s about choice.  Most of you know that I ran for office as a Republican candidate in 2010. Even though my core values are Republican, I choose to run as an unaffiliated candidate in this election. I made this choice because I believe that all voters should have a voice in selecting their chief law enforcement officer, not just Republicans.   In Teller County, NO local general election has been contested in over 20 years. Instead, local government officers have been elected via a single party caucus process that excludes about half the voters in Teller County. I want to change that. My choice to run as unaffiliated candidate ensures that EVERY voter in Teller County gets a say in who will be the next Teller County sheriff.

 

— “You bring up many issues related to the Sheriff’s Office. Are they all really true?

Unfortunately, yes, they are.  John Adams, the second president of the United States said: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

 

My campaign information is based on facts, data, and public records. Often, the reports filed by the Sheriff himself. I make all the information available on my website so that you can check what I and my opponent are saying for yourself: http://www.mark4change.com/supporting-documents.

 

— “I know you’re running for Sheriff but what are you doing for the community overall?

I am the head coach of the Woodland Park football team. I sit on the board for Teller Safe Harbor, an organization that assists victims of domestic violence. I am involved with the American Legion in Woodland Park, where I served as a vice junior commander.

 

As you have seen during my campaign, my team and I have made ourselves available to anyone in the community that wants to ask questions. I intend to continue this practice as a Sheriff since I believe that everyone in our community should feel comfortable giving myself and my command staff a call. You can call me at my personal phone at: (719) 322-1284.

 

— “Do you support the Second Amendment?

I absolutely do. As a matter of fact, my 2010 campaign initiated the move to remove registration of concealed handgun permits with the Sheriff’s office.  You may recall that in 2010, the former Sheriff supported reporting concealed handgun permits in a database where criminal records are stored.  The rationale was “officer safety” but the reality reflected a view by Teller County law enforcement that concealed handgun permit holders were dangerous and needed to be tracked by law enforcement like criminals. Thankfully, the legislature changed the law to prohibit such tracking since people who go through the trouble to apply for and obtain a concealed handgun permit are overwhelmingly law abiding and do not deserve to be treated like criminals.

 

— “Will you enforce Governor Hickenlooper’s magazine law?

Law enforcement swears an oath to enforce the law. We don’t get to pick and choose. However, laws must be enforceable, which this law isn’t because you can’t tell the age of a magazine owned by private citizens. Therefore, my administration would not be able to enforce it as it’s currently written.

 

— “Do you think that sheriffs should use their discretional power to revoke Concealed Handgun permits?

No, this is against Colorado law, which says that sheriffs SHALL approve permits once you’ve passed the requirements to obtain a permit. Unfortunately, official data reported to the Colorado General Assembly by my opponent in March of 2013 shows that he  does use this power more than any other sheriff in the state of Colorado – more than Denver, more than El Paso county, more than Douglas county.  More than anyone else in Colorado. You can find the General Assembly data and the data my opponent provided to them on my website: http://www.mark4change.com/2nd-amendment-rights/

 

— “Are you going to eliminate the SWAT unit?

No, not necessarily, The SWAT unit will be reevaluated as to the necessity, functionality, and implementation. Is there sufficient need within Teller County for a SWAT unit given its size and rural nature? Is the SWAT unit being appropriately deployed? Is the expense justified or are the funds to train and maintain a dedicated SWAT unit better used towards in service departmental training?  Certainly, the multi-million dollar lawsuits filed against the Sheriff’s office (particularly, the Bauman case, which was a botched SWAT unit raid) indicate that training, supervision, and oversight of the SWAT unit is needed.

 

— “Are you unionizing the Sheriff’s Office?

No, am not. As a matter of fact, a sheriff can’t. However, the excessive turnover in the department indicates that employees are deeply dissatisfied with the management of the department and their lack of a voice. In my administration, I will be committed to listening to and considering employees views.   I will allow the employees of the Sheriff’s office to have representation in case it’s needed. These are the same rights as employees in the private sector have. 

 

— “What will you do about the lawsuits plaguing the Sheriff’s Office?

You can find information about each lawsuit on my website: http://www.mark4change.com/law-suits/. In every case, I’ve tried to provide the public with a copy of the documents filed with the courts so that the public can see the facts of each case.  The facts of the cases are shocking and demonstrate a disregard for the rights of citizens, employees, and the Constitution.  When a police agency is well run and officers are well trained, such lawsuits are virtually non-existent. Compare: the former sheriff was sued TWICE during his EIGHT YEARS of administration.

 

In summary, my opponent’s record is: three excessive force lawsuits, two sexual harassment lawsuits, one fair labor lawsuit, and one lawsuit related to retaliation against a person executing his Second Amendment rights.  All in 3½ years, and all of which are paid for by taxpayers.  None of the previous administrations ever had this many lawsuits, so something is seriously wrong in the current administration.

Addressing the issues presented in the lawsuits is a matter of leadership, training, and clear policies regarding acceptable behavior. For example, I’ve already spoken with the Teller County Human Resources department to provide training on how to stop sexual harassment.

 

— “What are you doing about the excessive turnover rate at the Sheriff’s Office?

Per the Teller County Human Resources (HR) department, 82 employees has left or been terminated from the Sheriff’s office during my opponent’s administration. This is a shocking number when you consider that there are only about 80 employees in the department.  For example, 23 employee (29%) left the agency in 2013. You can find information about the turnover rate on my website:http://www.mark4change.com/excessive-turnover-rate/.

 

Every time an employee leaves the department, it costs taxpayer monies to find, replace, and train a new officer.  Estimates are that each employee departure costs around $24,000, so the turnover during my opponent’s administration cost taxpayers about $2 million.  Addressing these issues is a matter of leadership, training, and proper HR procedures. For example, the Teller County HR department has been involved in only ONE of the 82 separations from the agency only, indicating that the department is disconnected from the rest of Teller County government and run like a separate fiefdom. I find this unacceptable. Therefore, I have already had discussions with the Teller County HR department regarding increased collaboration once I become Sheriff.

 

In addition, I’ll introduce the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights, which are policies that define how command and officers should interact.

 

— “What will you do to solve crimes in Teller County?

As most people know, the Sheriff’s Office has failed to find the arsonist that plagued our community over the last few years. Similarly, Teller County has its first unsolved, cold homicide case in over two decades. Furthermore, the reported crime rate has NOT fallen while the arrest rate has been in a steady decline.

 

To address these issues, my administration will use Community Oriented Policing techniques. These techniques focus on community collaboration to; for example, understand where to best focus our resources.

 

Also, I will supplement the sheriffs training budget by utilizing local resources available to law enforcement agencies such as Central Mountain Training, an organization that provides training at no cost to law enforcement.

 

I hope that this letter answers some of your questions about my campaign. If not, please give me call(719) 322-1284.

 

Please vote in the general election. Make your voice heard. When you do, please vote for Mark Manriquez for Sheriff.

 

Thank you,

 
Mark Manriquez
Unaffiliated Candidate, Teller County Sheriff
Family • Community • Choice