Justen Goodall, a former Montezuma County patrol deputy, officially assumed the post of Mancos marshal on Feb. 1.
He replaces former Marshal Jason Spruell, who announced his resignation in October in order to operate Mesa Verde Motorsports in Cortez. The 30-year-old Goodall was selected for the job after undergoing several rounds of interviews and tests.
Goodall sat down with The Journal last week to talk about his experience, priorities and first few weeks on the job. This interview has been edited for clarity.
Can you start off by telling me your name and who you are?I’m Justen Goodall. Born and raised in Montezuma County. Graduated from Cortez High School. Family’s been in the community for a long time. And my drive has always been community ties because I have been born and raised in the county.
Do you live in Mancos?No, I live in Cortez. It would be tough for me to move to Mancos – I own a home in Cortez, things like that.
How and why did you get into law enforcement?A lot of my family went into the military. And I decided to go into law enforcement instead of going into the military, as my service to the country and community. I started with the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office on July 15, 2010. And worked as a grant booking officer, and then was promoted to a corporal within the detention center. And then a sergeant, and after four years in the detention center I lateraled to patrol and worked with patrol until I applied for the marshal’s position.
How do you think your experience in the Sheriff’s Office will translate to your new position?I was lucky to have some very good leaders teach me through my career. And I’ve taken the attributes I’ve learned from them and can apply them to the Marshal’s Office. And better the Marshal’s Office, and continue to build the Marshal’s Office from what my predecessor was working on.
Do you have any examples from when you were in the detention center, or patrol?The detention center – you see people always on their worst. Anybody that comes to the jail is having the worst day they can. If you can have good customer service with somebody that’s having the worst day of their life ... if you can treat somebody with respect that’s in a confined environment, then you can treat anybody with respect, whether they’re in custody or it’s somebody that’s having a bad day.
The other thing I learned with working in the Sheriff’s Office, is people don’t call the police on good days. No matter how little it is to law enforcement, at any given point that is the worst day that that person may have had in their life. It relates to a smaller community just as well as the entire county.
Will there be a resources difference, in terms of what you’re used to?Yes and no. Coming from the Sheriff’s Office, where there’s a larger deputy patrol staff, to the Marshal’s Office with a smaller staff, it’s just the scope of our patrol area is smaller.
So it’s proportional.As far as resources, there’s not as many at any given time. But proportionally it’s the same, if you look at it that way.
And the relationship with the Sheriff’s Office, State Patrol, Cortez Police Department – we’re all here to serve the community, and we all back each other. If the Mancos Marshal’s Office needs assistance, we know that State Patrol or the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office is going to provide that. Same with Cortez PD, if they knew we needed assistance, I know they’ll send somebody. And same goes for us, if one of the other agencies need assistance, and we’re available and close, of course we’re going to assist them. The whole goal is public safety.
What are some of your initial priorities going into this job?The initial priority will be school safety, because children are the most precious resource for a community. And we’ve already started that – we’ve been doing school checks regularly. We’re involved in the classrooms, we go in, we talk to the students. Getting them used to our department because we don’t have a dedicated School Resource Officer. So each deputy, that responsibility fall upon them and myself, to provide security to the school for anything that the school needs.
As far as that goes, the next thing will just be, continue the community outreach that Marshal Spruell had started, and continue to keep working with that. The other thing that the Marshal’s Office is starting and will continue to work on is municipal code enforcement within the town, and ensuring that the municipal code is being followed by the residents within the town limits.
When I’m talking about municipal codes – snow removal from the residents’ sidewalks, parking on the streets, having an expired registration and vehicles on the city streets. Any fencing issues, any health safety issues with weeds, trash, anything like that. And then also the liquor enforcement. We’ve got a deputy that’s primarily going to be working on the municipal codes, and compliance with liquor code and marijuana compliance within the marijuana shops in town.
Any initial thoughts on weed and liquor enforcement?I don’t really perceive any issues (going) forward. It’s been done fairly well. But any time you start something, a new enforcement, that’s when you start to see the issues, and because it’s still in its infancy, getting off the ground, there’s not really any foreseeable issues that I see right now. But I’m sure they will come.
In terms of the speed limit, any thoughts about how strictly you’re going to be enforcing the new speed limit?Speed limit will be enforced. If somebody deserves a citation, they will receive a citation. That doesn’t mean attitude tickets, anything on the stop – if they’re speeding and the deputy feels that that person deserves a citation, they will receive a citation. We don’t do selective law enforcement. We enforce the model traffic code and CRS correctly and appropriately.
As reporters, access to information is important to us. What’s your take on the Sunshine Law and transparency in general?Any government entity, it is very important that there is transparency. For not only access to the information, but so the community can see what the Marshal’s Office is doing, and how we are working to benefit the community. And if we’re closed off, then the community will give pushback to anything we try and do. We’re here to serve the community, not be closed off and not part of it. I believe transparency is huge in law enforcement today. And it has to happen.
Is your wife also in law enforcement?No, she recently got out of law enforcement because of me taking this position. So she’s working to be more available for our children, because this is going to take so much of my time.
How have been your first two weeks on the job?Officially. I’ve been in the office off and on since Jan. 16, learning and getting the administrative side down, and understanding what it will take to do the job. But it’s been smooth – no complaints. A far easier transition than I anticipated. I’m excited to be part of the team for the town of Mancos.