Letters to the Editor: Oct. 7, 2021

Veteran’s views

Dear Editor:

The folks in Washington, D.C., say that possession of military-style high-capacity rifles must be strictly controlled or banned to make us all safer. This is the legislation they intend to use: H.R.127 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/127/text

The Attorney General, through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, shall establish a system for licensing the possession of firearms or ammunition in the United States, and for the registration with the Bureau of each firearm present in the United States.  

2019 Homicides by weapon: rifle—364, knives—1,476, hands/feet—600, blunt objects—397.  https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2019/crime-in-the-u.s.-2019/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-8.xls

Wesley Eubanks

Safety more important than closing county jail

Dear Editor:

The safety of the citizens of Meeker, Rangely, Rio Blanco County and law enforcement outweighs the benefits of closing the jail. Citizens and property will not be as protected when just a summons is issued on a jailable offense, and the offender remains on the street.

When offenders are arrested and transported to Craig, Colorado, from Meeker and Rangely this will take the officer off the streets for long period of time.  Most of the time there is only one officer on duty.  

Rangely P.D. and Deputies will have to transport the prisoner 93 miles one way to Moffat Jail for a total of 186 miles, or 3½ hours on good roads. Highway 40 can be treacherous during a snowstorm with elk and deer on the highway.

Meeker P.D. and Deputies will transport 48 miles for a total of 96 miles or two hours on good roads.  These times may be extended by how busy Moffat Jail will be booking their prisoners. During large events or when making more than one arrest there will be more officers off the street doing transports to Craig.  

The money saved from closing the jail will not be as much as people are led to believe.  When part of the jail staff is transferred into other areas, new vehicles purchased, cost of prisoner transports to Craig and the money paid to Moffat County to hold prisoners there is not the savings to justify closing the jail.

The financial burden has now become that of the Towns of Meeker and Rangely.  This decision will cost more in overtime for officers transporting and officers called out to cover the transporting officer’s shift.  Fuel and vehicle maintenance costs will go up.

In a previous article to the paper the Sheriff says law enforcement is summonsing more so there are less inmates in the jail.  Officers and Deputies are told the jail will not accept some prisoners due to Covid. So are number of inmates low because of Covid or a reason to show low inmate days to justify closing the jail.

Then there are those Detention Deputies who will lose their jobs, who have been dedicated and looking forward to a long career in our community. The local Meeker and Rangely stores who provide food and other services to the jail will take a hit. The burden put on the families of inmates for the travel time for visitation and medications to inmates.  

Tens of millions of dollars was spent to build a new Criminal Justice Center. This cost was not justified to the public as needing new court rooms, D.A. offices or new offices for the Sheriff and personnel.  It was sold to the Rio Blanco County taxpayers as we need a new jail, which was and is still needed. 

Colorado Statute 30-10-511 Sheriff custodian of the jail — listed as one of the main duties of a Sheriff.  If a Sheriff gives up a major duty should he/she also give up proportionately from their $109,615 salary?

Rio Blanco County needs the jail.  Where are the priorities for the community, employees and law enforcement?  It is always nice to say you saved money, but what are the real costs?

Phil Stubblefield
Rio Blanco County Sheriff (RET), Meeker Police Chief (RET), Rangely Lieutenant
30 of 42 years law enforcement in Rio Blanco County

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