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County sheriff to increase coverage in north end of valley

Changes coming for county contract with Mt. Crested Butte 

By Alissa Johnson

The Gunnison County Sheriff’s Department is making plans to have an increased presence at the north end of the valley. That will likely mean big changes to an agreement between the county and Mt. Crested Butte, whose police department currently provides coverage for the sheriff’s department north of Round Mountain.

According to sheriff Rick Besecker, the shift comes at the direction of the Board of County Commissioners, who wanted to see the sheriff’s department transition to the north end of the valley. “That plan has started to unfold. Right now we have two officers in the academy that… will be assigned to the north end,” he said.
While an office has not yet been established, Besecker says that is also part of the two-year plan. And next year, he will hire an additional two officers.

“We will have a dedicated concentration in that area,” he confirmed.

That will mean some changes for a contract between the county and Mt. Crested Butte, which has been acting on behalf of the sheriff’s department at this end of the valley.

According to Mt. Crested Butte town manager Joe Fitzpatrick, the town and county are operating under a one-year extension of the existing agreement, under which the county pays the town $138,644 for its law enforcement services. That extension expires at the end of 2017.

“Negotiations and discussions are taking place,” Fitzpatrick said, indicating that they are working on a new agreement. Though he noted that Mt. Crested Butte has been providing this service on some level since the 1970s, he declined to comment further on negotiations since the conversation is ongoing.

Besecker, however, confirmed that any future contract would be significantly different if there is one.

“The contract as we’ve become accustomed to it will no longer exist. There may be a contract for those that may be interested… [in providing] coverage when we are not in that area. That’s what’s in play right now,” Besecker said.

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