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New sheriff in town

Currently serving as the deputy chief of the Fountain Police Department, Bill Elder will take over as the new sheriff of El Paso County in January. He ran unopposed in the November election.Elder began his career in law enforcement in 1978 as a volunteer for the El Paso County Sheriffís Office, and transitioned to a paid position a year later. During his 20 years of service there, he spent three years working criminal investigations, five years as the commander of the narcotics unit and also worked many other jobs within the department, he said. Elder left the sheriffís office in 1998.In 2010, Elder said he decided to get back into law enforcement and took the job as commander of patrol in Fountain, and later he was promoted to his current position as deputy chief.Elder said he decided to run for the sheriffís position because he thought now was the right time to make a change. ìI felt like we could go back and do something to create a better, safer community,î he said. ìI bring a level of law enforcement experience and a level of commitment to the community that I donít think has been there for a number of years.ìI think itís unfortunate that we played into the political side of this (election) as much as we have. I think that thereís so much involved with the job, from managing 800 employees and over 500 volunteers in the most populous county in the state; and itís unfortunate that thereís been so much political back and forth. The public wants Ö to know that when I take office, weíre going to bring professionalism back and provide a level of commitment to the community thatís second to none.There is a ìsignificantî difference between law enforcement in a municipal government and law enforcement in a rural setting, Elder said. ìIt takes a different mindset to police in a rural community like eastern El Paso County or Black Forest than it does to police in an urban setting like Stratmoor Hills or Widefield,î he said.Elder said he recognizes that patrolling such a large area can be a challenge. ìWe try to respond the way we patrol based on the actual need, and itís hard to guess that,î he said.ìIf you base it on the types and natures of the calls for service, and schedule accordingly, you almost always miss something.ìIn my staff, Iíve already spoken to the commander who will be my patrol commander, and have asked him to make it a priority to examine each district and see where we are light and where we are heavy ó and make adjustments.îElder said there are ongoing talks about a substation in Falcon because of the areaís continued growth.On the current issues within the sheriffís department, Elder cited a lack of leadership. ìIt absolutely can be fixed; itís just going to take some time,î he said The department is bringing in KRW Associates LLC, a local company, to do an assessment of the agency and determine what is working and what is not, Elder said. ìWe wonít have to spend three years studying it; theyíll be doing it, and itís what they do for a living.îElder said that every one of his undersheriffs and deputies have worked at the sheriffís office for at least the last 12 months. They each have a minimum of 17 years experience, with some touting up to 26 years of experience. So, when Elder is sworn in, he said his department will hit the ground running with a ton of experience.

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