We’ve been writing a series of posts about alleged budget mismanagement at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. We’ve been told it has broken the bank in some budget streams with two and one-half months left in the calendar year. This means the EPSO allegedly has had to cut corners in critical areas: vehicle maintenance, ammunition for proficiency firing, etc. Cutting corners risks officer safety, an unacceptable condition if these allegations are true.
We’re seeking details through the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA). What we’ve received so far in response to our original request only raises more questions since it doesn’t square with what multiple sources have told us about EPSO being unable to pay some bills. Considering the fact the county attorney won’t provide the level of detail we requested without charging us an exorbitant fee (when it should be free and publicly available without a CORA request), we’re unsure government in this case is being completely forthcoming.
Managing a budget is not terribly complex. As a Commander, I managed multi-million-dollar budgets that balanced to the penny each time. Sometimes there are unexpected expenses that put pressure on spending. Excessive maintenance costs, significant investigations that drain resources, or more crises than anticipated can drive up spending. These are normal and acceptable risks that come with law enforcement.
But sometimes excessive costs are simply avoidable errors, self-inflicted wounds that are never tolerable. One such cost may be excessive lawsuits and settlements with the county that result from misconduct within EPSO. These are unacceptable and an abuse of the citizens’ trust and taxpayer money.
When there’s a climate of sexual harassment, sexual assault, bullying, coercion, cronyism, favoritism, vendettas, petty scores to be settled, and worse – retaliation for reporting the above — then there’s a greater risk of lawsuits and settlements. All the above seem to be borne out at EPSO in recent years, and it needs to end.
In August 2017, El Paso County settled out of court with a female employee who alleges she was retaliated against for reporting sexual harassment during the tenure of the current Sheriff. The county settled for nearly $68,000. By the way, that’s YOUR money. Not one person behind the harassment or the retaliation coughed up a dime.
This Colorado Springs Gazette story’s title alone says it all: ‘El Paso County taxpayers on the hook as Sheriff’s Office settles sexual harassment complaint.’
These are the consequences of bad behavior, of enabling a frat boy mentality to permeate the EPSO. It won’t end until the current regime is replaced.
It gets worse. Recently, charges were dropped against former EPSO Commander John San Agustin for alleged kidnapping. The case against him was weaker than anything I’ve ever seen. Does it merit a malicious prosecution lawsuit against the county, the DA, and the Sheriff? Could be.
As this Colorado Springs Independent article suggests, a potential settlement could be in the millions of dollars: ‘UPDATE: Felony charges dismissed against John San Agustin.’
Who will pay that bill? YOU WILL, of course.
If you’re fed up with budget mismanagement, a hostile climate in the Sheriff’s Office that rewards misconduct, and endless lawsuits that damage YOUR bank account, then do something.
Support me in my run for Sheriff.
The hostile climate ends the day I’m sworn in. I’ll implement a zero-tolerance policy on day one. Since I am an outsider to the EPSO, I can neither play favorites nor engage in vendettas. Bad apples will be dealt with, and everyone will be accorded the dignity and respect they deserve as professionals. This is the best insurance against lawsuits that you can purchase with your vote.
Together we can do this. Become a delegate for me next March. Make a donation.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT