Recent articles in your paper, concerning Sheriff Spruell, Officer Cronk, and Laurie Cooper, should help the public consider how people in important jobs in our county can be elected or appointed to these positions, without the qualifications or temperament suitable to the public interests.
Spruell's comment that his," goal was always to be sheriff of Montezuma County," is not appropriate for our leading law enforcement officer. The goal should be first and foremost, to serve and protect the people of Montezuma County. His political stances, defying legislative rulings, may have emboldened his officers to take liberties, which Cronk hopefully, is the most blatant example. During his tenure, the tone of his office has taken on a "good ole boys," quality, reducing the accountability and professionalism of the force. In Dolores, who contracts with the Sheriffs' Dept. for services, there has been a reduction in patrolling and relationship with the public. Deputies parking near the school and entrance to town, are rarely seen in areas that have repeatedly called on disturbances, disputes, and oversight in neighborhoods. A professional and accommodating rapport between the Sheriffs' Dept. and the public is essential to establishing trust in citizens' feeling protected and served.
The Montezuma County Health Department dissolved their "Home Health Dept." five years ago under the recommendation of Laurie Cooper. Forty eight workers lost their jobs as she contended that this program was "losing the county money," which is disputed. (Now home health is provided by private agencies, who are still required to coordinate with county case workers, taxed by heavy case loads and high provider turn over, for all Medicare/Medicaid recipients.) Many employees at the Health Dept., and her employers, were aware of Ms. Coopers' problems, and of threats and admonishments she made to those confronting her condition and behaviors. That the board was not made aware of the self- serving premises on which an entire workforce, (serving some of the most elderly and infirmed members of our community for decades,) was dissolved, was a miscarriage of justice. That she was supported in this action by superiors, who shielded her at expense of the public interests, should be a wake- up call to citizens who believe that such abuse of authority is not acceptable.
Both the county sheriff and the director of our health department are bound as advocates for the interest of the public and common good. In the future, let us choose leaders more qualified and inclined to do this.
Ellen J. Benson