Grappling with Colorado’s Drug-Infested and Crime Epidemic

Sheriff Mikesell Comes Out Swinging in Fight Against State Lawmakers
Trevor Phipps
While state lawmakers have taken steps to further restrict law enforcement agents, crime within the state has soared to an all-time high.

As drug and theft cases increase statewide, law enforcement officers continue to struggle to keep order in their communities. In addition, they are combating a state legislature that is beefing up its war against legal gun ownership and making it harder for police and sheriff departments to do their job. This is the recipe for a law enforcement disaster.

These are the sentiments of Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell, who came out firing away in a recent interview with TMJ News regarding the current spike in crime, and Colorado’s growing drug plight, not to mention the current anti-cop attitude of many lawmakers.

According to Mikesell, Colorado has recently become the number one most drug-infested state in the country. The new statistic comes about right before the state will allow hallucinogenic mushrooms and other drugs to become legal.

On the upside, the sheriff does see some positive momentum from a legislative and political standpoint in the fact that more leaders and residents across the state are joining the cry against the anti-law enforcement stand of state lawmakers.

The sheriff did say that he noticed that the legislative majority members were not able to pass as many bills as they had hoped. With  600-plus bills proposed, the sheriff said that he had hopes many don’t eventually become law.


He said that during this year’s session he saw a lot more people fighting against bills (including sheriff department staff, the Teller County Republicans and the state sheriff’s association) than he had in the past. He said that many of the bills failed or were amended most likely due to the fact that so many people spoke out against them.


The sheriff said that many of the issues the state is now experiencing are rather new to Colorado. A decade ago, the state was not seeing the high rates of crime and the immigration problems it has today.


One of the sheriff’s biggest concerns has been the lack of a focus on mental health.

“This year, I saw all of the firearms’ bills come out and Second Amendment Rights were really under fire,” Mikesell said. “The one thing I didn’t even see them look at was mental health issues. Not once did any of the legislators look at a mental health bill to help what we are already seeing as a growing issue in Colorado. They want to go after legal people and they don’t think about things they could do to help mental health issues.”


He also said that he is concerned about the state legislature driving a wedge between Coloradans. “I have never seen a group of legislators that laughed at reverends that were talking about mental health aspects they are seeing in their communities,” the sheriff said.


He said that during the debate about a bill that would allow legal drug injection sites, the legislators didn’t listen to the chiefs of police or the Colorado sheriffs that spoke out against allowing places where people could safely use illegal drugs. “That judicial committee basically said that ‘we were just a bunch of old white guys that drink too much,’” Mikesell said. “This is the type of behavior that you are getting from some of the legislators in Denver.”


When the sheriff fought to get House Bill 24-1128 passed that would have given back the ability for law enforcement agencies to work with federal immigration authorities, a key legislator argued that law enforcement lies and that “there is no such thing as illegal immigration, and that they are all Colorado citizens no matter where they come from.” They also said that there are no such things as drug cartels and that there is not a drug problem in the state, according to Mikesell.


During the legislative session, the sheriff (along with other sheriffs across the state) fought against the bill that would outlaw handcuffing people using “prone restraint.” They also spoke out against the anti-gun bills and a proposed measure that would have given state law enforcement agents authority over local sheriff’s departments when it came to gun-related crimes.


In the end though, the sheriff said that most of the bills they testified against got changed and watered down from their original proposals. He reiterated the fact that more people fighting against the bills seemed to have played a role in their defeat and alteration.


Concerns Over Federal Marijuana Law Changes


Days after headlines circled the country that marijuana could be reduced on a federal level from a class one controlled substance to a class three, Mikesell said that the state would see some impacts if the federal government loosens regulations on marijuana. He said that the biggest impact could deal with the state’s marijuana taxes. Mikesell noted that the industry is already dwindling and further deregulation will reduce the amount of money the state can take in.


“You are going to have more and more marijuana being sold and we are all going to have to deal with the outcome of it,” Mikesell said. “It’s being reduced to such a point where there is no enforcement mechanism.”


He said that by expanding the limits of how much marijuana people can have, and the laws changing, it’s getting hard for law enforcement agencies to enforce the regulations that are still in place. “Now that marijuana is going to be transported all across the country, it’s not cost-effective for us to even deal with it anymore,” Mikesell said. “It’s the same thing that is happening with prostitution and the same thing that is happening with harder drugs. This is why you are seeing Colorado become so drug-infested. Now those agendas are getting push into the rest of the United States.”