Sunday, September 9, 2007
Steamboat Springs Sept. 6, 2007
To: Routt County Commissioner Nancy J. Stahoviak, Chairman
Routt County Commissioner Douglas B. Monger
Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush
From: Gary Wall
Re: Response to July 24, 2007, correspondence regarding county policies
At the risk of suggesting that I am demonstrating a lack of respect to the Board of County Commissioners of Routt County, I decline to respond to your request made by correspondence dated July 24, 2007. You ask that I initial after each policy referenced in the attachment to your letter to designate whether or not these policies are or are not acceptable to the Sheriff's Office. I want to emphasize that my position is taken as a matter of principle and that by taking this position I believe I am following the law, and not in any way breaking the law. I take very seriously the oath of office I took prior to formally beginning my tenure as the Sheriff of Routt County and believe that my actions are absolutely consistent with my obligations to this office, my Undersheriff, my Deputies, the citizens of Routt County and our visitors.
In order to help you understand the legal basis of my decision, I am in this single instance and in the most limited way, partially waiving my attorney/ client privilege to provide for your review a copy of the attached Memorandum. Here, my legal counsel has provided an assessment of the legal issues raised by the Commissioners in their July 24th letter. Although I believe that this correspondence speaks for itself, I rely on my legal counsel in taking the position that the request of the Routt County Commissioners set forth in their letter dated July 24, 2007, would result in my acting in a fashion that is not mandated by law. By responding to the attachment to the letter by initialing each county policy as you requested, I believe that I would be allowing the County Commissioners to usurp my authority as Sheriff and involve themselves in the affairs of the Sheriff's Office in an impermissible manner. This is something that I cannot allow, not only for all of the employees of the Routt County Sheriff's Office, but also to maintain the integrity of all other Sheriff's Offices throughout Colorado.
I would also be remiss in not commenting that you have never explained why the County Commissioners have not requested other elected officials to engage in similar activities involving County policy. I am not aware of any similar request to the Sheriff's Office in the past. Although I do not anticipate an answer from the Commissioners, I am curious as to why the County Commissioners would direct these types of inquiries upon me as Routt County Sheriff, but not others.
I would also comment that it is my stated concern that the County Commissioners not punish the Routt County Sheriff's Office in the budget process because of the principles upon which I stand in coming to this decision. The argument has been made that an easier approach would be to merely cooperate with the Routt County Commissioners and comply with requests made on July 24, 2007. It is my position that I will not compromise the office by acting in that manner.
It is my full intent to publish written policies of the Routt County Sheriff's Office addressing issues of significance to this office based on a time schedule that adequately takes into account both the substance and the procedure of a given issue. It is also my intent to publish all of these policies on our Internet site so that any individual interested can review them. Certainly the Board of County Commissioners can review these policies and can make decisions as to whether or not they concur or agree with its own policies.
I hope that none of this would result in a punitive attitude by the Routt County Commissioners as we go through the budgetary process. I would expect that any disagreement between the County Commissioners and my office be handled in such a way to not put the Undersheriff, Deputy Sheriff's, citizens of Routt County and visitors to our county in any peril because of not being adequately funded to uphold the statutory responsibilities of this Sheriff's Office.
While I understand that you may not agree with the positions taken in this letter, I trust that this will not interfere with our working relationship in the future. Ultimately, I insist upon the ability to act as the Sheriff of Rout County in a manner that is consistent with Colorado law. It is my obligation to see to it that my actions do not allow any interferences or intervention that might infringe upon well established and respected foundations of law underlying the operation of governmental entities in our state.