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Summit County Sheriff Martinez Says His Department Is Well-Staffed

Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez told the County Council that staffing-wise, he’s in good shape compared to the previous year.   Martinez said he’s in an enviable position, compared to most departments in the state.

Sheriff Martinez, in his budget presentation to the Council, said he’s not asking them for a lot last year.   He thanked them for allowing him to hire new staff in the 2019 budget plan.

The Sheriff said he’s just about fully staffed.   He’s only short a couple of dispatchers, and is looking at candidates for those  positions now.       

“I came to this body, probably last year, talking about the need to hire more deputies and how hard it is.   And what we’ve done—I can say that by and large, I would say out of the 29 counties, probably 25 of them are all looking to hire somebody.    I can report to this group right here, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office is one of less than a handful of sheriff’s offices that is fully staffed.   I have sheriffs ask me, how do we do it, “How did you do it, how did you go out and recruit, retain?  Y’know, we just kept working at it, kept working at it hard.”

The Sheriff did talk to Council about a couple of vehicle needs he has.    He said their jail transport vehicle has come to the end of its useful life.

He said they’re acquiring a new vehicle, and the cost, of over $100,000 is coming from his normal operating budget.

The Sheriff said by current standards, the new vehicle practically has to be a mobile jail.       

“It has to be ADA compliant.    It has to have multiple holding facilities, has to be air-conditioned, has to be heated.  There’s a lot of things that are required of a transport vehicle now that weren’t when we purchased the last one.  So this one, what we’re looking at purchasing is a two-part system.  And it’s a modular system.  Buying an F-350 chassis, and then buying the box that goes on top of it.  The way they sell it, is  the box can be re-utilized.  The box is ADA compliant.  The box has all the bands in every single holding facility for air conditioning, heating.  But if something were to happen to the truck, let’s just say it took front-end damage and the truck was totaled, we can unbolt that box and put it on another chassis.”

On another item, he said he would like to get a Sno-Cat that could be used by Search and Rescue to ferry people out of the backcountry who have been injured or had medical issues.    He said the traditional method has been to use a sno-mobile pulling a toboggan, which can be very uncomfortable for the passenger.

Sheriff Martinez said they have a Sno-Cat, which is about as old as he is.    In a pinch, he said, they could commandeer a machine from a ski resort, but those operators don’t have the expertise of a member of Search and Rescue.   

He said the cost would be about $150,000.   It is possible they could get some financial help from a new group, called The Friends of Summit County Search and Rescue.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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