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Photos courtesy of Bill Elder and Grace Sweeney-Maurer

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Bill Elder, Republican (Incumbent)

Campaign Website: sheriffelder.com

Campaign Facebook Page: facebook.com/EPCsheriffelder

Education: Palmer High School; El Paso County Community College (now Pikes Peak Community College) and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs; Colorado Springs police academy

Experience: Became a sworn deputy in 1979 and rose through the ranks to lieutenant; four years in the Metro Vice, Narcotics and Intelligence Division; commercial and residential Realtor from 1998 to 2012; worked for Fountain Police Department and was promoted to deputy chief in 2012; Sheriff since 2015

What’s the best way to deal with overcrowding at the El Paso County jail?

Because average daily populations have grown from 1200 in 2015 to over 1700 many times today, I instituted a multi prong plan that includes different methods including greater use of PR bonds, use of a new felony summons’, developing new cooperative agreements with health care providers, use of alternative programs to incarceration of pregnant women, reducing the backlog of state prison inmates, reducing the numbers of “technical parole violators” being held locally, developing alternatives to incarceration of failure to appear and failure to comply on minor charges. We are monitoring the population daily as we near jail capacity. This is one of my 2018 priority projects, and I have a detailed operational plan to address it.

Should the Sheriff’s Office play a role in enforcing federal immigration law? Explain.

Yes, we have and we do. ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is advised of any criminal Illegal aliens who are brought into the jail. ICE is again notified when they are to be released and ICE takes custody of them. I am the only Sheriff in Colorado being sued by the ACLU for these policies, I refused to bow to their threats.

Do you believe the medical and recreational marijuana markets are creating a problem with illegal grow operations in the county? If so, how can the Sheriff’s Office help address that problem?

I don’t believe those markets are creating the problem, the problem is created because proper restrictions were not in place when our state constitution was changed to allow grows and not provide reasonable limitations on size, location, etc. While supporters claimed legal marijuana would lower black and grey markets, it did the opposite. In 2017 we were able to change the law on plant counts, we are now able to shut down these illegal grows. This is also one of my 2018 priority projects, and we are 60 search warrants into addressing this problem.

Grace Sweeney-Maurer, Democrat

Campaign Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/Grace4Sheriff

Email: Grace4Sheriff @gmail.com

Education: University of Illinois at Springfield: bachelor’s degree in criminal justice

Experience: Honolulu Police Department training division facilitator; retired federal government employee; Sangamon County Sheriff ’s Office citizen police academy; Allegheny County crime lab

What’s the best way to deal with overcrowding at the El Paso County jail?

Overcrowding in jails is a problem nationwide. There are several long-term solutions to consider when addressing overcrowding, but very few short-term solutions. One short-term solution to deal with overcrowding at the El Paso County jail is to reduce the mentally ill population within the jail. Though the staff at the jail do a fine job, they are not mental health experts and they are there to control the environment in the jail. Mental illness is complex and is difficult to diagnosis, therefore, this population should be managed outside of the jail. Sheriff Elder recently announced an initiative where the El Paso County Sheriff ’s Office partnered with a local hospital and mental health professionals to address the needs of these individuals and reduce their incarcerations. Other short-term solutions could include: the transfer of federal detainees to a federal facility within 48 hours; working with the courts and prosecutors to find alternative sentences, as opposed to incarceration for some individuals.

Should the Sheriff’s Office play a role in enforcing federal immigration law? Explain.

Law enforcement agencies typically work together and at times there are jurisdictional overlaps. The primary responsibility of the Sheriff ’s Office is to enforce state and local laws. If a deputy detains and arrests an individual for committing a crime, there should be procedures in place to check whether the individual is wanted by other agencies or for other reasons. If there is a federal agency that wants someone detained, then that agency should transfer the detainee to a federal facility within 48 hours. The citizens of El Paso County should not be burden with the costs of lawsuits, the costs of overcrowding in the jail, or the cost of overtime for staff to maintain a safe environment for detainees. Furthermore, El Paso County should not become the next Maricopa County. All people need to feel comfortable reporting crime and asking for assistance.

Do you believe the medical and recreational marijuana markets are creating a problem with illegal grow operations in the county? If so, how can the Sheriff’s Office help address that problem?

Illegal marijuana operations had been in existence prior to the legalization of medical and recreation marijuana in Colorado and more than likely will continue to be an issue. The Sheriff ’s Office can address this problem by increasing the number of raids on illegal grow sites and partnering with the community to seek out the sites, destroy the plants, and arrest the growers.

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