Three law enforcement veterans are vying for the job of Mancos marshal.
Jason Spruell, Ken Underwood and Joe Roberts talked with town officials and citizens at a meet-and-greet session March 10 at the Mancos Community Center.
The Mancos Board of Trustees will appoint one of the three as marshal, Town Administrator Andrea Phillips said. The candidates went through background checks including a polygraph exam, psychological investigation, and drug, skills and integrity tests, Phillips said.
About 30 members of the public attended the session, and they were invited to submit comments about the three candidates. Town staff will consider those comments and results of the background tests before recommending a candidate, Phillips said. That recommendation should come in the next few weeks, and the current board will appoint a marshal before the municipal election April 5, she said.
Spruell has served as interim marshal since December, after former Mancos Marshal John Cox resigned amid misdemeanor and DUI charges. Spruell moved up through the ranks of the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Department for more than 16 years. He retired from that department last April.
Spruell said Mancos has had trouble retaining a marshal in recent years. He said he was born and raised in Montezuma County and all his family is here, so he isn’t going anywhere.
If appointed as marshal, Spruell said he would make an effort to find and retain deputies too.
“If we can keep deputies, they can form relationships in the community,” he said.
Spruell also said he would revisit some department policies if appointed marshal. He also would continue developing department training programs, he said.
“Mancos is a great community,” Spruell said. “I want to make it a better, safer community.”
Underwood, who lives near Dolores, is a 43-year veteran of law enforcement. He currently serves as a sergeant with the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Department patrol division.
Underwood said he would be able to provide some stability for the town and work with the town board to help determine the direction of the marshal’s department.
He said he would make an effort to be approachable for people in Mancos.
“I have the background and experience,” Underwood said. “I can make people happy and be available.”
Roberts is currently chief of police in Simla, Colorado, a town of 620 on the eastern plains northeast of Colorado Springs. He said he started in law enforcement in 1982 and has had experience in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City, but likes the feel of small towns, having grown up in a small town in Massachusetts.
Small communities like Mancos give people a chance to be more involved than in big cities, Roberts said.
“I want to know I can actually make a difference,” he said.
Roberts said he would be involved in the community and put on events if appointed as marshal. He said Mancos isn’t closed off from the rest of the world — it’s trying to grow, but still has a sense of its roots.
Roberts said building back up community trust with the people of Mancos would be a challenge for the marshal’s department, but he said he is ready for the task.
“You have to give and keep your word,” he said.