End near for Central City Police Department

Posted at 4:13 AM, Jan 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-10 12:50:02-05

Colorado’s second oldest police department may soon be history.

The city manager of Central City told Police Chief Terry Krelle, via a memo, that they plan to do away with their police department and will contract out law enforcement duties to the Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the memo sent to Krelle by Daniel Miera, it’s all about saving money.

Miera estimates Central City would save 34% of what it typically spends for police protection.

When asked for a specific dollar figure, a spokeswoman for the city couldn’t provide it Saturday night.

The memo to the chief spells out the reason for the planned change.

“Essentially, in an environment where needs and desires for service(s) are increasing, but resources are decreasing, the city has a duty to explore any and all available options,” Miera wrote.

He also stated, "...this whole process began because it has been increasingly difficult, if not impossible at times, for the CCPD to adequately staff and/or maintain 24/7 law enforcement coverage within Central City."

It’s a move that doesn’t sit well with some residents.

“I think it’s a horrible decision,” said Cheryl Kresak. “We need our Central City police officers. I’m so mad, I’m almost in tears.”

“We’re a very close knit community,” said Kayla Johnson, who helps manage a dispensary a block away from the Police Department. “We know all our officers.  They look out for us and we look out for them.”

The manager of Dostal Alley Brewpub and Casino, Jeffrey Willits, said he’s not comfortable with the decision.

“It’s the fast response time (of the Police Department) which has allowed us to be able to insure that our guests are safe,” Willits told Denver 7.

He said there was an incident last week where an individual broke into the casino.

“He did some damage to our property,” Willits said. “It was the response time that allowed police to apprehend the individual… very quickly.”

Miera said it wasn’t an easy decision to make.

“In fact, it is with a very heavy heart that I communicate this information to you and your staff,” he wrote to the chief.  “It is of the utmost importance that you… understand that the city’s decision to move forward with this option is in no way a reflection of the Department’s performance and/or commitment to the community.”

Miera told the chief that Central City will “move as slowly as necessary to: 1) provide the greatest amount of notice to all impacted employees; 2) design a seamless and uninterrupted transition; and, 3) maintain as much of the department’s identity as possible.”

He went on to say that the city has been assured that the Sheriff’s Office will accept and strongly consider employment applications from all current CCPD employees that wish to submit their interest.

The chief did not return a phone call seeking comment about the reorganization.

In a news release issued by the city last night, Gilpin County Sheriff Bruce Hartman said, “Central City is a big part of Gilpin County since it is the county seat and as such, the sheriff’s office is already invested in the City and its citizens.  The Central City Police Department and the Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office have historically worked well together so we anticipate the transition to go smoothly. We don’t want to take their identity away and so we’ll continue utilizing their vehicles with their current markings”.

Miera said the city and Gilpin County are working on an Intergovernmental Agreement.  No timeframe for the completion of that agreement has been announced.

Willits told Denver 7 that irate citizens plan to attend the next City Council meeting at 7 p.m. on January 19, to let council members know how they feel.