The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 8 in Durango last week endorsed Steve Nowlin in the Montezuma county sheriff's race.
The 35-member lodge represents law enforcement officials across Montezuma, LaPlata and Archuleta counties. Lodge president Geary Parsons said several members had worked with challenger Nowlin and incumbent Dennis Spruell.
"Steve Nowlin was voted on for Montezuma County," Parsons said. "The members liked him more."
"I'm really humbled," said Nowlin. "I know that if I'm elected, I have to earn their respect. I have to work for them, and I will."
The Fraternal Order of Police is made up of full-time employed law-enforcement officers.
During the 2010 sheriff's race, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge in Durango didn't endorse a Montezuma sheriff's candidate.
Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell dismissed the endorsement, saying that Parsons told him that he didn't know Nowlin.
"They needed to nominate somebody, so a member said Steve Nowlin," said Spruell, who seeks a second term in office. "So that was that."
Outlining several "visible mistakes" that have added up under Spruell's administration, The Cortez Journal on Friday also endorsed Nowlin.
Asked his thoughts on the public-corruption charges that led Spruell's former undersheriff to a 30-day jail sentence, Nowlin said he'd like to review the details of the case first, saying, "I was not involved in that investigation at all."
Nowlin added that he'd have handled the public corruptions probe differently.
"I would definitely have known where every dime was being spent," he said.
Asked if he'd selected a potential undersheriff, Nowlin said he wouldn't make that decision until being elected. A handful of people have expressed an interest in serving as his second in command, he said.
"They will have to meet the qualifications that are set, and we will go from there," said Nowlin. "A full background, probably a polygraph, psychological and a review panel. We want the best and brightest to serve here in Montezuma County.
Nowlin said his top agenda item would be to restore both the public and employee trust in the sheriff's office, adding he would not clean house in the department.