By Corrinne Shearer, Organizational Performance and Training Specialist MONTROSE–The Montrose County Sheriff’s Office has a long standing tradi- tion of upholding the public safety. It has served Montrose and surrounding commu- nities since 1876. Today, the Sheriff’s Of- fice has more than 100 employees who work in patrol, dispatch, detention, civil process, victim advocates, records and administration. The Sheriff’s Posse has 37 volunteers who are responsible for coordi- nating search and rescue efforts in Mont- rose County. The Sheriff is also the fire warden of the County and is responsible for any wild land fires outside of the fire protection district.
One function that sets the Sheriff’s Of- fice apart from other local law enforce- ment agencies is the regional dispatch cen- ter. This facility was established in 1998 and has been staffed and administered by the MCSO ever since.
The dispatch center provides service well beyond unincorporated Montrose County.
In total, Montrose County Dispatch serves 30 varying agencies across Mont- rose, Ouray, and San Miguel counties. The agencies served include police and fire departments as well as EMS.
The regional population served totals 55,000 citizens and includes the City of Montrose.
Since 2000, the volume of calls to dis- patch has increased 62 percent while the population has increased by 19 percent. The dispatch center now receives on aver- age of 290 telephone calls a day.
Montrose County is in the process of upgrading communication infrastructure
and equipment to better serve the needs of the region.
Another critical shared resource provided by the MCSO is the agency’s K-9 unit. The K-9 unit is just over a year old and is used extensively in narcotics detection, specifically highway interdiction to detect illegal drugs that are being transported into and through Montrose County. The unit is also trained in tracking missing persons which has greatly assisted the Sheriff’s Office and Posse in locating missing per- sons. The K-9 unit also provides assistance to neighboring jurisdictions. This unit fre- quently assists the City of Montrose Police Department with narcotic searches and traffic stops.
The MCSO has begun using a zone based crime tracking system that will focus on: geographic area, day of week, and time of day to determine where and when crimes are occurring throughout the County. As part of this system, investigators will be assigned “zones” within Montrose County and will be responsible for establishing and maintaining contacts and working relationships with residents and business owners within their assigned zone.
During 2012, community outreach has been a priority. The objective is to focus on crime prevention through creating part- nerships between the MCSO and citizens and businesses in the community. This zone system will help the Sheriff’s Office track trends in specific areas and serve citizens more effectively.
The Detention Center houses inmates from the MCSO jurisdiction and has an agreement to house inmates from other agencies in Montrose and Ouray counties.
The Sheriff’s Office has made improve- ments in the operation of the detention center to reduce costs and improve effi- ciencies. This includes video arraignment, outsourcing services such as food prepara- tion and reorganizing staff to better use certified personnel. The Custody Support Assistant position was created to handle internal operations. This position does not directly interact with inmates, thus the MCSO can utilize qualified detentions staff more effectively for managing in- mates.
At the end of 2011 the Sheriff’s Office adopted their first-ever strategic business plan. The strategic business plan identified services each division within the Sheriff’s Office provides and how they can meet the needs of the public in an accurate, timely, transparent and cost efficient manner. In turn, they also aligned the plan to the County’s five strategic priorities that were determined by the citizens. This will help ensure accountability to the community.
As part of the strategic business plan, the MCSO implemented a tracking and ac- countability program.
This program allows for citizen feedback to the Sheriff’s Office for those who re- ceived services. This is a venue for them to voice concerns or express satisfaction with services. Feedback will be gathered through multiple methods; a web based feedback system, telephone survey of cus- tomers and comment cards for on-site cus- tomers. The tracking and accountability program will allow the Montrose County Sheriff to track his agencies success and compare this success to measures estab- lished in the strategic plan.