Sheriff Terry Maketa addressed concerns from the El Paso County commissioners about how well his department is functioning in the midst of accusations that he misused funds and promoted woman with whom he allegedly was having sex.
A major concern for many in southern Colorado is how well the county will be able to respond during flash flooding or if another wildfire were to break out.
“I think we are positioned today to respond to any kind of disaster better than we have ever been," Maketa said, citing numerous positions that have been added to the department including: two wildland crew supervisors, two seasonal full-time wildland firefighters, one additional HAZMAT coordinator, and two additional disaster emergency planners.
The sheriff also said functionality of the office during an emergency will not be affected by the absence of three commanders and a bureau chief who retired. He said the three commanders are assigned to the jail, patrol and one is an administrator, and not directly related to emergency response efforts.
The sheriff also said staff are trained to fill in when one person is out of the office because of vacation, sick days, or holidays, reiterating once again that he does not believe the function and effectiveness of the sheriff's office has been negatively affected by the recent scandals surrounding him, or the absence of some staff.
“There is no breakdown in any communication, any desire for resources, and every week I’m seeing our deputies perform at phenomenal levels," the sheriff said.
To punctuate the point, Maketa pointed to two arrests made last week in a homicide investigation. The El Paso and Pueblo County Sheriff's Offices have been cooperating in that investigation.
Maketa also referenced a number of statistics to support his claim that the sheriff's office is functioning efficiently and communication of priorities is being effectively communicated.
Those statistics (comparing January to May of this year with the same period last year) are as follows:
- clearance rate up 24%
- felony arrests up %15
- misdemeanor arrests up 13%
- DUI arrests up 24%
- traffic citations up 65%
- traffic warnings up 55%
- motorist assists up 17%
- officer initiated activity up 30%
“That’s an indication that the command structure and the priorities are being set," Maketa said.
The commissioners voted last week to ask Maketa to resign.
Maketa is elected, and a recall vote would be required to remove him. Opponents are gathering signatures on a recall petition.
Maketa is term-limited and will leave office in January. A recall election would be in November.
He's been accused of having affairs with three female subordinates, along with discrimination, budget improprieties and creating a hostile work environment.
He has apologized for what he called inappropriate behavior but said he wouldn't resign.