The Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office has investigated a recent confrontation between two women at a local soup line, and has reported that the armed woman had resigned from the sheriff’s office days before the incident.
“She was not an employee,” Sheriff Steve Nowlin said on Tuesday, Oct. 27.
A Cortez Police Department report dated Oct. 10 revealed that a homeless woman alleged that an armed sheriff’s employee confronted her about a stolen marijuana plant. After reading about the incident in The Journal on Oct. 20, Nowlin said he ordered an investigation.
He said his greatest concern was to determine whether the woman, identified as Connie Jones, was impersonating a peace officer. Employment records revealed that Jones had worked as a county detention officer trainee starting Sept. 1. She resigned Oct. 6, four days before confronting the homeless woman at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church.
In light of the incident, The Journal asked Nowlin if sheriff employees were allowed to cultivate or consume marijuana, even for medical purposes.
“No,” he emphatically replied. “We have a zero-tolerance policy.”
Nowlin further explained that department policy required all employees to notify the sheriff’s office even when taking prescribed medications.
“It’s an issue of firearm safety,” Nowlin said.
The sheriff’s investigation also revealed that Jones had invited the homeless woman into her residence for dinner days before resigning. That’s when Jones said she told the homeless woman that she worked for the sheriff’s office, according to the investigation.
Jones, armed with a Glock .40-caliber handgun during the confrontation at St. Barnabas, also told sheriff’s detectives that she threatened to file theft charges against the homeless woman if the stolen marijuana plant wasn’t returned. The plant reportedly belonged to Jones’ roommate. No charges have been filed.
An eyewitness at St. Barnabas confirmed with sheriff’s detectives that the confrontation between Jones and the homeless woman was “heated.”
According to detectives, the homeless woman was unaware that Jones no longer worked with the sheriff’s office when she filed the complaint with Cortez police on Oct. 10.