Letter: About the Rangely PD

Dear Editor:

First of all, please know that I was unable to attend the town council meeting which was primarily regarding the concerns residents (taxpayers) had with the local police department. I tried to pull the meeting up on the internet. The day I tried to do this was the day the town had pulled it off and was to put it back on. Unfortunately, I was never able to pull the meeting up for review. My information comes from individuals who were there at the meeting who relayed to me what was said.

Let me say I have served on the planning commission, the town council, as mayor of Rangely plus Rio Blanco County commissioner, as well as serving on many regional, state and federal boards.

As I continue to hear people discuss the problems that were related to the council that Tuesday evening, it has become really interesting to me as to how the town responded to what their actions would be. Long story short, from the last article in the paper it appears the town attorney came up with the plan for the police department and the town that has been presented to the people. The proposed plan is a six-week course (meeting once a week) which would not only include the police department, but any individuals who wish to attend. What I get from this is that the meetings will explain to all why and what the police have done in the past relative to what is actual protocol under legal guidelines.

My concern for this is, quite frankly, don’t we just need to talk common sense in solving many of the issues that were presented to the town council, i.e. police chief, etc. The person actually in charge of your police department is your Rangely Police Chief Wilczek. Chief Wilczek not only answers to the council but to the administrator of the town. If there is a problem with his department, the Chief is the head of that department and is responsible for whatever is going wrong or right. May I say, not the attorney. In this case, there were a number of issues that seemed to appear basically the manner in which legal issues were carried out. I am going to say if there is a problem, the problem becomes not the attorney’s responsibility, but the police chief in this case. The attorney is there for legal issues that actually come to court for the police department to address. The attorney is not the person responsible for the everyday actions of the police department in total, nor should he or she be. Sure, the police department must check with the attorney on legal issues.

It seems to me when you have more than 100 people from Rangely attend a town council meeting there must truly be a problem somewhere, somehow. It would now appear to me that the Rangely citizens taking their time to attend a meeting and share what they thought were problems is not being taken as it should be by the town as a whole. The people presented issues, some right, some not so right. However, overall, what the people told you, the council and administration, was there is a problem with the local law enforcement. Basically, the general public just wants to know what you are going to do to resolve the true issues. They don’t want to have to attend meetings for six weeks that basically tell them what is legal for the police department, if you understand what I am saying.

They presented the problem and now expect the police chief, administrator and the town council to come up with problem solving issues that correct the situation and move on.

I have been hearing concerns with the police department for a long period of time. Evidently, the citizens who attended were actually telling the council administrator and the police chief what those problems appear to be. They took time to come to a meeting.

I would hope that more would be presented to the public other than six weekly meetings that you (the public) can attend with the police department, etc. The public doesn’t want to be the police department, they want the police department to function as it should under the guidance of the police chief. If the police chief cannot form a plan to present to the public, but has to use the attorney to put the plan together, that is a sad situation and tells me the chief quite honestly does not recognize how serious the true problem is. I know a child that doesn’t care for the police, period, anymore simply because of a situation she was involved in and she, herself, was treated by local law enforcement.

Her grandmother wrote a letter to the council about this situation. Handling of the teenager basically involved common sense… yes, perhaps there is a truly legal way to handle a situation such as the one that happened, however, plain and simple, the teenager needed to be with her only relative in town… that means if the police had to take her to the only relative, for God’s sake, please do just that. This would have saved the young lade a lot of problems, plus, she would then think the police department were really wonderful people. Instead she has no use for police, period. Sad, sad. All because of how she, herself, was handled. Proper procedures for the police department probably identify the procedure as taking the teenager to the police department, (not her relatives) when she had done nothing wrong… an adult did, but the teenager didn’t. It will take a long time for this teenager to believe in police again, all because a police officer didn’t use common sense in how to handle an innocent teenager.

It would seem to me that your police chief is totally responsible for his department and their actions. So where does that leave the Town of Rangely citizens?

There is an election coming up to replace some of the council and a new mayor. Generally, the first meeting of the council is appointment of the town administrator, the clerk, the municipal judge and the and the police chief. By the way, how many people are aware that the municipal judge is also the wife of the police chief plus the secretary to the district court. I am not saying she is not capable, because she is. What I am saying is this not a conflict? Her husband the police chief, and she the municipal judge, as well as the secretary to the district court. This decision is done by town council and generally upon the recommendation of the town administrator with exception of the district judge secretary position. The police chief says any tickets he writes go to the Meeker court. What does this cost the town to have court in Meeker, traveling, etc. I think this is very interesting. However, this has gone on for years. So therein the responsible party or parties are the town council and administrator.

Just some thoughts for all to consider.

Peggy Rector

Taxpayer, Citizen of Rangely