OURAY BRIEFS | DA Says Seize the Chance to Rebuild Police Department
by Samantha Wright
Jul 05, 2013 | 1111 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dan Hotsenpiller, the District Attorney for Colorado’s Seventh Judicial District which encompasses Ouray, knows a thing or two about rebuilding an organization.

He was appointed to his position by Gov. John Hickenlooper in early 2011 after the district was rocked by the arrest of former DA Myrl Serra, who was charged with sex crimes against some of his employees. Hotsenpiller’s own term as DA has been marked by a transparency which started literally with a new, clear-glass door to his office, replacing the solid wooden door behind which Serra committed the crimes for which he has since served jail time.

Hotsenpiller traveled to Ouray on Monday evening, July 1, to address council on the working relationship between the Ouray Police Department and the Seventh Judicial District. The OPD has been short-staffed since former police chief Leo Rasmusson and two police officers resigned in May.

Hotsenpiller stressed that those departures, and the ensuing hiring effort currently underway, represent a unique opportunity for the city to rebuild its police department in a thoughtful, purposeful manner.

“As the chief law enforcement officer in the 7th Judicial District, I have a little bit of standing to come talk to you at a critical juncture,” he said, referring to what it was like when he was appointed, coming into an agency in crisis which had destroyed partnerships it needed to be effective.

“When I heard the news about the Ouray Police Department, I was concerned and worried, but it is evident that this is an opportunity to build the department you want to see in this community and build a strong relationship with other law enforcement agencies in the 7th Judicial District,” Hotsenpiller said.

Hotsenpiller praised the capabilities of Commander Gene Lillard of the Montrose Police Department, who is serving as part-time interim police chief in Ouray as the city continues its search for a new police chief, and whom Hotsenpiller said he has come to deeply appreciate over a decades-long working relationship.

Law enforcement officers from other agencies have also contracted with the city at a rate of $30 per hour to help cover vacant shifts at the OPD until new officers are hired.

City Administrator Rondinelli reported that interviews for the two officer positions were conducted over the past week. The results are currently being evaluated and offers will be made shortly.

The posting for the chief position, meanwhile, has been opened for two additional weeks to allow time for additional applications to be received, Rondinelli said. The new posting period closes July 9, and review of the applications will occur the following week.

“What I want to urge you to do, is take time before conducting interviews for the chief position, and decide what kind of department you want,” Hotsenpiller urged council. “Before going forward to select a leader, lay the groundwork to decide what values and priorities the department should have.”

Hotsenpiller offered the services of his own department to the OPD, including its two investigators, during the department’s transition period, and also volunteered to serve on the interview team for the chief position, if council would like him doing so.

“This is a great opportunity to raise the level of performance of your police department,” Hotsenpiller said.

Ouray County is one of the six counties served by the 7th Judicial District Attorney’s office. The District Attorney’s Office handles any state statutory crime cited or filed by the Ouray Police Department.

BLACK SWIFTS ARE BACK AND NESTING AT BOX CANYON FALLS

City Resource Manager Rick Noll reported that black swifts are back and beginning to nest at the Box Canon Falls.

“There are 16 birds, and currently two with eggs in their nests, at Box Canon Falls,” he stated in a memo to council. The United States Department of Agriculture has recognized the City of Ouray and Box Canon Falls staff, with a Research Management and Partnership Award for the City’s support of research efforts and activities in regard to the black swift, Noll said.

COUNCIL HOLDS SPECIAL WORK SESSIONS

Council held a budget work session on June 24, regarding the city’s upcoming capital expenditure plans. This was followed, last Friday, June 28, by a six-hour tour of the city’s water and waste water facilities and parks. “It was incredibly complex and interesting,” Mayor Bob Risch reported.

WATER USERS ASSOCIATION INCORPORATES

The newly formed Ouray County Water Users Association adopted bylaws and articles of incorporation as a 501(c)4 at its most recent meeting last Tuesday, June 25. Councilor Michael Underwood, the council liaison to the association, reported that the group anticipates a $5,000 start-up cost for administrative services, to which each member entity will contribute in equal amounts.  For the time being, however, each member entity will contribute just $100.
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