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Jim Saunders named new undersheriff

Retirement didn’t last long for former Pagosa Springs Police Chief Jim Saunders.

Saunders, who retired in May, will come out of retirement to serve as Archuleta County’s new undersheriff following the resignation of current undersheriff John Weiss.

Weiss announced his resignation Oct. 29, with the resignation effective Dec. 31, leaving Sheriff Pete Gonzalez to fulfill his second term in office with a new undersheriff.

Gonzalez started with five candidates, narrowed the list to three following availability checks with the candidates, then faced a tough decision.

“All three would have done a tremendous job,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said he chose Saunders because of Saunders’ link to and working relationship with both the PSPD and ACSO — serving in and overseeing the PSPD and overseeing a joint field training program for the two entities.

Gonzalez said that what once was a strong working relationship between the two entities has deteriorated, and Saunders has the potential to help heal the gap.

“Jim Saunders, where I built the original bridge ... is the one individual capable of rebuilding that bridge,” Gonzalez said.

Saunders has over 39 years of law enforcement experience under his belt, including serving as assistant chief and chief of the PSPD and 22 years with the Jefferson County Sheriff Department.

Saunders said when Gonzalez approached him about the position, he told Gonzalez he was one of only two people he would sacrifice his retirement for.

“The two people I would have done that for would have been him or Donnie (Volger, former PSPD chief),” Saunders said. “I do consider it a privilege to do this for him and that department.”

Saunders will take on his new role beginning Jan. 3.