Green Mountain Falls ponders elimination of police department

By: Alison Noon
July 11, 2013 Updated: July 12, 2013 at 8:24 am

With the Green Mountain Falls mayor out of the loop, the town's Board of Trustees has been exploring the possibility of replacing the town marshal with a private security company.

Green Mountain Falls Chief of Police Timothy Bradley had heard rumors for months, but he said he received confirmation of the town Board of Trustees' plan last week when emails were forwarded to him containing security contractors' bids for handling the town's law enforcement.

Board of Trustees member Howard Price has spoken with colleagues privately on the topic of removing the town's marshal many times, but the future of the municipal police department remains unclear.

Price acts as the liaison to the police department. Bradley said the two had not spoken explicitly on the board member's research until the chief asked Price to explain the emails.

"I will not interfere. This Board of Trustees is my employer and I cannot and will not become involved in this effort," Bradley said. "I simply have to go along with what they choose."

Discussions have yet to be public. Only recently did word of the possible police upheaval reach Mayor Lorrie Worthey, who is not keen on the idea.

"I disagree with private law enforcement and security companies," Worthey said. "They can't offer what a police department can."

The small town of about 600 people straddles two counties, claiming 62 percent of its land is in El Paso County and the other 38 percent in Teller County. Although El Paso County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Lt. Jeff Kramer said downtown Green Mountain Falls lies in El Paso, the town's division has, for the time being, left jurisdiction for county law enforcement up in the air.

Board of Trustees member Mac Pitrone said he has spoken with Price about alternatives to having a police department.

"We've never had contract law enforcement, but if that's what the citizens want that's certainly something we're willing to explore, but it's not something I'm going to jump right into," Pitrone said.

A handful of town residents are concerned that the issue has not been raised at town meetings. They will meet at 2 p.m. Sunday to discuss it.

Colorado law requires government officials to make meetings open to the public, but only when the meeting is between more than two or a quorum of officials.

Town Attorney Lisa Hickey said the private meetings are often conducted between two trustees or with volunteer staffers. They're necessary, she said, in a town that can afford to pay just three employees.

"It's a small town with a small amount of resources," Hickey said. "Sometimes they have to meet in ones and twos to get work done."

Peg Perl, a lawyer at Colorado Ethics Watch, is not convinced. Meeting in private on a certain subject over an extended period of time breaks "the spirit of the law," she said.

"Best practices can clear up a lot of citizen mistrust," she said.

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