Sheriff clarifies staff numbers

SAGUACHE — In addition to the complaints mentioned in their letter on page 4A, Saguache County Commissioners verbally objected to the numbers reported for the staff at the sheriff’s office in the Nov. 2 article appearing in the Center Post-Dispatch.

That article reported: “Currently the sheriff’s office is down to five — three deputies, the undersheriff and the sheriff. One of the five is deputy Wayne Clark who is also working code enforcement for the county.

“This isn’t counting deputy Elke Wells, who is not available for patrol because she is assigned to a full-time security position at the courthouse. Another deputy is out on medical leave and there are two open positions unfilled, [Sheriff Dan] Warwick said. Wells used to cover Crestone once a week but now is unable to do that, with her new position.”

At that time, the article reflected the retirement of deputy Richard Sutton, who was formerly stationed with security for the courthouse. Sutton was not immediately replaced following his retirement. Another deputy later returned to full duty after taking medical leave.

Sheriff Warwick lists current law enforcement officials in the office as himself, Undersheriff James McCloskey, Sergeant Richard Pascoe and Corporal Steven Hansen. Deputies include Wayne Clarke, Tyler Harford and Steven Olsen, who has only been on the job for 30 days.

“Elke Welles position is grant-funded by the courts,” Warwick pointed out. “She is not on patrol.”

Commissioner Tim Lovato said last week there are nine deputies serving with the county.

Warwick says he is currently short one deputy’s position for patrolling the town of Saguache, but notes that even when that deputy is hired he or she will not be available for general patrol, but will be limited to the town. “That at least takes some of the heat off,” he commented. “But when Wayne [Clark] goes full-time code enforcement, we will need another deputy.”

Some months Clark has dedicated 91 hours to his code enforcement duties alone.

There are five full-time employees on the jail side, three dispatchers, one full-time cook and two part-timers, all earning only minimum wage. They will soon receive a pay raise with the minimum wage increase kicks in however, Warwick said. In the front office, Lyn Miles serves as secretary and Ellen Cox is the county victim’s advocate.

Even though there has been a three percent pay increase from commissioners “That will just barely take some staff to minimum wage standards,” Warwick said. “And our supervisors are not making a proper amount over the deputies.”

Warwick says he is working 20 hours of overtime a week and his undersheriff five to 10 hours a week. Cpl. Hansen also works 10 hours of overtime a week. Most of the jail staff works overtime as well, he added.

Warwick observed that the three percent pay increase recently granted by commissioners is the first real raise county employees have seen in 12 years. He hopes to resolve the pay issues in his department this year despite budget issues and a lack of sufficient staffing

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