Sheriff will not release report on department before election

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder refuses to release a report that assesses the current state of his department.

The sheriff paid an independent consulting firm to complete the comprehensive report. The cost to taxpayers so far is nearly $15,000. The report has been worked on for at least a year.

The sheriff requested a similar report in the past, but that one only took a few months.

When Elder was first elected back in 2014, he ordered KRW Associates to take a hard look at the department and come up with recommendations based on what they found out. After interviewing hundreds of employees, the firm came up with 40 recommendations for the new sheriff.

The whole report took five months to complete and cost taxpayers $55,335.

Halfway through his term as sheriff, Elder requested a follow-up report from the same company to see how the administration is doing.

According to the original timeline, the follow-up report was requested by the sheriff in Aug. 2017, and the final report was supposed to be completed in Nov. 2017.

Now with this year's election looming, Elder told 11 News on Monday he will not release what the firm has found out so far and says he is not even asking the firm to finish it.

In an email statement, he told 11 News he has concerns about making big changes to the department right before a new sheriff may be elected.

He also added, “With recent retirements of a number of key senior staff, the subsequent promotions and personnel changes, as well as additional moves I anticipate in the near future, it is KRW’s recommendation (and I agree), that I wait until after the movement of staff is concluded before I begin scheduling additional meetings and assessment center work.”

So why wasn't the new report finished sooner?

Documents obtained by 11 News show in January the sheriff was shown a draft report that cost taxpayers $14,900. It included feedback from 140 employees and resulted in 52 new recommendations.

In a letter to the sheriff, the firm acknowledges Elder wanted more time to work on the old recommendations before the new report was finalized.

The firm also asked for a few extra weeks because they had prior commitments.

We sat down with Elder about the delay in releasing the report when 11 News started asking questions months ago.

“We have added so many new personnel to our leadership cadre that have not been trained, that have not gone through leadership training, leadership models, that they don't have the right answer. [The firm] needs to interview them to find out who's got this who's got that. What works, what doesn't work.”

The sheriff denied sitting down with 11 News to discuss the decision not to finish the report but told us through a written statement that if he continues into a second term, he will ask the firm to finish the job.