Valdez outlines plans, goals for sheriff’s department

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Archuleta County Sheriff Rich Valdez, second from right, poses with  (from left) outgoing sheriff Pete Gonzalez, Undersheriff Tonya Hamilton, and county commissioners Michael Whiting, Clifford Lucero and Steve Wadley shortly after the board appointed Valdez to the position Oct. 15. Valdez, who is running unopposed on the Nov. 4 ballot, was appointed after Gonzalez resigned.
Archuleta County Sheriff Rich Valdez, second from right, poses with (from left) outgoing sheriff Pete Gonzalez, Undersheriff Tonya Hamilton, and county commissioners Michael Whiting, Clifford Lucero and Steve Wadley shortly after the board appointed Valdez to the position Oct. 15. Valdez, who is running unopposed on the Nov. 4 ballot, was appointed after Gonzalez resigned.

Former undersheriff Rich Valdez officially took over the reins of the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office on Oct. 15 after being appointed to the position by the Board of County Commissioners following former sheriff Pete Gonzalez’s retirement.

Gonzalez served as sheriff for almost eight years, with his second term set to end on Dec. 31.

But, with Valdez running unopposed on the Nov. 4 ballot and his house having sold, Gonzalez put in his resignation, setting into action the course of events that led to Valdez taking over the title of sheriff.

With the undersheriff position then vacant, Valdez announced on Oct. 15 that the new undersheriff would be a department veteran — Tonya Hamilton.

Despite the new title, Valdez said he doesn’t plan on making very many big changes straight out of the gate.

“I don’t perceive making any big changes right now,” Valdez said, explaining that only minor changes are currently underway.

Those changes, Valdez said, include having every officer within the department wear the same uniform — a change that was on display at the Oct. 15 meeting in which Valdez was appointed sheriff and all deputies, investigators and detention officers sworn in. Traditionally, deputies and detention officers have worn different uniforms.

Valdez said the change is to bring the entire department together as one team, noting that everyone plays an important role, though they just have different responsibilities.

The department is also in the process of hiring for a new position,  Valdez noted.

While Gonzalez was still the sheriff, the department began advertising for an operations lieutenant to oversee patrol and investigations, but when few applicants surfaced in the first iteration of the search, it was reopened and is set to close again on Monday, Oct. 27.

Aside from those changes, Valdez said a committee is currently working on reviewing and updating the office’s policy and procedure manual and reviewing job descriptions within the department, though no changes would be implemented until the beginning of 2015.

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