LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. - The Larimer County Sheriff has written a letter to the residents of Wellington recommending against the town forming its own police department.
"As your Sheriff, if I thought the town would get better policing services or a better value by forming and funding a town police department, I'd be the first to suggest you do that," Sheriff Justin Smith wrote on Facebook Tuesday morning.
Smith said a patrol officer from Greeley submitted a proposal to the Wellington Town Board last fall to create a town police department, modeled after the now-defunct police department in Berthoud. (Editor's note: read below for information on why the Berthoud Police Department was disbanded.)
Smith said the Greeley officer is offering Wellington more officers and more services for a smaller budget.
"However, knowing all that it takes to provide those services, I believe that simply isn't attainable with dollars that were proposed," Smith wrote to the citizens. "The proposal relied on below market salaries, used equipment and minimized officer training to project lower costs to the town board. The honest reality is that those methods translate into low hiring standards, high turnover and officers ill-prepared to serve the needs of the community."
Smith promised that the Larimer County Sheriff's Office would schedule meetings with the Wellington community to address questions about its deputies.
-- Berthoud Police Dept disbanded
The Town of Berthoud disbanded its police department earlier this year after a scandal involving an officer arrested on suspicion of child abuse.
The Larimer County Sheriff's Office investigated the department and found unsatisfactory hiring practices, a lack of proper tracking for equipment, late court filings, "haphazard" paperwork, mislabeled evidence, "inadequate" ongoing training and mishandling of allegations of misconduct.