Kremmling Chief, Police and Sheriff changes

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Chief Scott Spade retirement

Kremmling Chief of Police Scott Spade announced his official plans to retire at last week’s Town board meeting.

Spade admitted he had been wishing to retire for some time, but postponed his retirement plans to help hire replacements for Officers Charles Jones, who was recently hired by the sheriff’s department, and Bob Dillon who plans to retire at the end of April. “I have been trying to do it for a long time,” said Spade,

“I have no intention of leaving until such time the board is comfortable.”

“… but within reason,” he added cautiously amongst laughter.

Spade says he plans to stay on as Chief until a replacement is found and then plans to relocate to Washington to be closer to his youngest daughter, Kelly and her family. Spade also has grandchildren in Kremmling and expects to visit frequently.

Spade has served on Kremmling’s police force for nearly 25 years and has served as Chief since 2004.

 

Kremmling Police receive pay raise

In recent searches for new officer replacements, Spade championed a salary increase for his police department. Spade cited the raise was necessary to find and retain quality officers. During the February 21 meeting, Spade commented that his police department had become a training ground for the Grand County Sheriff’s Department whose pay was substantially larger than Kremmling’s. He also noted that there were few candidates to replace Officer Dillon and felt the starting pay was too low.

Kremmling’s starting pay for a post certified officer was $42,000 while the Grand County Sheriff’s Department was nearly 20% more at $50,554 for the same officer position. Granby’s newest proposed pay scale was $52,000- $54,000 for a non-certified potential officer and as an added incentive the Granby Police Department would pay for the non-certified new hire to complete a Police Academy course while being paid.

During the meeting on February 21, trustee Scott Crandall directed Spade to develop a new pay scale for officers to help the board determine their next steps.

“We need to be more competitive or we are not going to get top-line guys,” said Trustee Guy Bakke who hoped that raising the pay scale would also encourage new hires to remain in the position. Chief Spade and Officer Dillon both cautioned that many of the younger officers may still seek other positions that offer more opportunities and have more calls.

Trustee Jason Wikberg questioned if bonuses might be an incentive to stay, and Spade said it could assist in retaining officers and finding officers that were a good fit.

On March 7, Spade presented the new hourly wage to the board. Sergeant Todd Willson was making $26.42 and will now be making $27.42 and Officer Jared Sralla was making $21.50 and will now make $23.75. Neither Chief Spade nor Officer Dillon received the raise.

Officers will continue to receive a $600 uniform allowance.

Spade explained that the Town budget will not be affected adversely because the insurance benefits had been budgeted heavily.

Mayor Tom Clark said in consideration of the pay raise, “We do need this. You have to consider the cost of living is higher here and we have to be somewhat competitive.”

The Town Trustees approved the raise unanimously. Trustee Guy Bakke was absent at the March 7 meeting, but the remaining trustees approved the raise unanimously. It is effective March 19, 2018.

Discussion with Grand County Sheriff to take over Kremmling police duties

The board transitioned to a presentation from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Schroetlin began by saying, “I just want to make it real obvious that we have had a fantastic working relationship with Chief Spade and the police department so this is a tough thing to do to stand up here and talk about numbers and try to figure out what works best…. So regardless of the direction the Town decides to go the Sheriff’s department remains neutral in that. We were asked to provide a proposal. We put together a proposal that we think is beneficial for everybody…”

The proposal outlined services for five deputy positions which included a school resource officer (SRO) and parttime support services personnel. It also included vehicle and other related costs.

Manager Mark Campbell compared the total cost of the Sheriff’s proposal that would total approximately $487,000 to the total cost of the Kremmling Police Department which currently costs $515,000. He noted the potential savings of $28,000 and stressed the Sheriff’s department would also provide a SRO position. There could also be additional savings if the Town of Kremmling added a fifth officer which Spade estimated in to be $80,000 in a meeting earlier this year. In terms of the SRO, Spade said there are possibilities in the school system to use state monies to assist in pay, if the Kremmling Police Department wanted to hire a SRO.

Leo Pesch, a candidate for Town Council, spoke from the audience, “As far as the school is concerned… having a police department in this town is, without question, what we need. The kids all know the police officers. They know them by name. These guys are all great with the kids. I can’t even fathom not having them at all.”

Dave Sammons, audience member and town board candidate, asked pointedly if the proposal allowed for 24 hour coverage in Kremmling or coverage for the west end of the county. The sheriff remarked it would not be guaranteed coverage in town, but on the west end. “There is your difference,” Sammons said and continued to clarify, “…we do not get guaranteed 24 hour service in Kremmling. These officers will have responsibilities from the top of Muddy Pass, to the county line, to wherever else in the county they are needed in the county…” Schroetlin also fielded questions on response time and said that could vary greatly depending on where his officers were located.

Audience member Jeff Miller asked Schroetlin, “What is the difference of paying you $487,000 and paying you nothing?” Schroetlin explained the Sheriff’s office serves all of Grand County. Each municipality has the responsibility to either provide a police department to serve their citizens or to contract with the Sheriff’s office “It’s basically us taking over your services,” said Schroetlin who said they would be adding to their work load the 3000- 4000 calls that the Kremmling police usually covered.

Trustee Wes Howell also asked if the Sheriff’s office would be handling Code Enforcer duties for junk ordinances. It was explained the Town would still hire someone separately for that position.

Current Kremmling Police Department officers may be able to join the Sheriff’s department, but they would have to go through the hiring process, according to Schroetlin.

Howell began the concluding statements, “In my opinion it is a clear decision we keep our own police department and not contract with the Sheriff’s department…. It is a nobrainer for me.” Howell highlighted quicker response times and familiar faces within the community as a benefit of retaining a local police department.

Trustee Scott Crandall echoed his sentiments, “I like knowing that there is an officer out somewhere in Town at all times. It always works well for me. I feel comfortable with that, and I appreciate it a lot.”

Trustee Gina Schroeder also vocalized support for keeping the Kremmling Police Department, but agreed with Trustee Jason Wikberg that input from the public would be beneficial before a decision was made. Schroeder felt that the Sheriff’s discussion should be its own agenda item to encourage public input.

Sheriff Schroetlin had previously met with Mayor Clark and Town Manager Campbell, but their proposal caught other board members and staff by surprise.

The discussion concerning the use of sheriff’s deputies for Kremmling’s law enforcement is expected to continue at the next board meeting on March 21.