Teller Sheriff’s Office Declares Victory in First Responder Challenge Golf Tourney

Banquet Held as Grand Finale to Law Enforcement Week Celebration

Trevor Phipps

Every year since President John F. Kennedy signed the proclamation in 1962, the nation has taken time to celebrate a special Peace Officers Memorial Day.

Even today, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world travel to Washington, D.C. to honor those fellow officers that have given the ultimate sacrifice.

Through the years, the special Memorial Day has turned into National Police Week that takes place the week of May 15 every year.

However, since May is a busy time of year in Teller County, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office and other local agencies have opted to celebrate their own Law Enforcement Week during the last week in August.

This year to honor Law Enforcement Week, the sheriff’s office held its first annual First Responder Challenge Golf Tournament. This was followed by their annual law enforcement appreciation banquet, held in late August.

This year’s First Responder tournament came in the wake of a highly successful tourney in June, sponsored by the Teller County Honorary Deputy Sheriff’s Association (HDSA), featuring  an 18-hole golf tournament at the Shining Mountain Golf Course in Woodland Park.  After sporting a record turnout for the tournament and raising an unprecedented amount of funds for HDSA, the sheriff’s office decided to hold a tournament dedicated to all first responders in the county.

Moreover, to add a little spice to the event, various first-responders formed teams and actually competed against each other during an official challenge, with no mulligans permitted. This is a big change from most scramble (best ball) tournaments held during the summer for non-profit organizations.

On the morning of the tournament, held on August 25,  a variety of teams showed up to represent the majority of the first responder agencies in the county. When entering the tourney, each team had to choose which local agency they wanted to play for to support.

This year’s inaugural event presented some chilly conditions, creating a slight weather delay.

But none of the team members complained, as they had an ample opportunity to snack on award-winning breakfast burgers and hot dogs, specially grilled.

In the end, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office was able to claim victory in the first responder links’ challenge, even though the tournament technically ended in a three way tie. The sheriff’s office’s team, Charis Bible College and Divide Fire all tied with a score of 31 (three-under par) during the nine-hole tourney.

However, since the Charis team was also playing for the sheriff’s office, the Teller sheriff’s agency was  officially declared as the victor. But as a compromise gesture, both the Divide Fire and the sheriff’s office will take turns enjoying the trophy.

Rumor has it that the sheriff’s team was buoyed by the amazing links skills of Teller County attorney Paul Hurcomb, who made up for the stray tee-shots of certain players whose names won’t be listed to protect the guilty.  The TMJ News squad, though, which also played for the sheriff’s office, didn’t exactly help the low-scoring cause.

Banquet Held to Celebrate Local Law Enforcement Officers

To end the annual Law Enforcement Week celebration, the sheriff’s office held an awards dinner and banquet at the Shining Mountain Golf Course the same afternoon.

The event put on by the HDSA gave awards to officers and handed out several prizes including firearms.

This year Bob and Jessica Burton brought out an authentic chuck wagon circa 1890 and served New York Strip steaks raised on the PBJ Cattleman Company Ranch in Divide. The golf course provided all of the fixings so attendees could enjoy a delicious steak dinner during the banquet.

For 2023, the best pistol shot award went to Officer Nathan Humphrey of the Woodland Park Police Department. Officer Bret Mathers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife won the top prize in the rifle competition.  Deputy Patrik Verduzco from the Teller County Sheriff’s Office won the archery competition.

During the event, Teller County Sheriff’s Deputy Corporal Kara Wright was given the Deputy of the Year Award for her leadership skills in the detentions division and the department as a whole. “She is always available to fill in when needed for not only the jail but various tasks outside her regular jail duties,” Lieutenant Renee Bunting said in an e-mail. “Corporal Wright is a certified instructor in both Taser and Phazzer devices as well as a driving instructor. Corporal Wright volunteers her time to oversee the operations of Honor Guard and she is an active member of the Recruitment Team, mentoring new applicants to succeed within the agency.”

Dispatcher Kailia Sanders received the Sheriff’s Commendation Award and the El Paso/Teller 911 Authority Telecommunicator of the Quarter award. “Earlier this year while working solo, Dispatcher Kaila Sanders answered a 911 Cardiac Arrest call,” Bunting stated. “A responding Deputy commended Kaila’s calm demeanor, professionalism and effectiveness on this call while dispatching Fire, Medical and Law Enforcement, getting key information to the responders, helping arrange helicopter flight details, and simultaneously reassuring and coaching the caller through CPR.”

Others to win the Sheriff’s Commendation Award include Sargeant Eric Hellman, Deputy Chris Paulsen, Deputy Craig Brown, Tristan Tetrault, and Miguel Calzadilla.