ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Adams County Sheriff’s Office has been doling out lucrative, taxpayer-funded summer jobs only to sons and daughters of department members, according to a CBS4 Investigation.
“Most people would call it nepotism,” said Luis Toro, executive director of Colorado Ethics Watch.
Colorado Ethics Watch describes itself as a nonpartisan watchdog group that holds public officials accountable.
Toro reviewed CBS4 findings that showed over the last three summers, for its summer youth employment program, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office has only hired young people related to Captains, Detectives, Sergeants, administrators and supervisors at the sheriffs department.
“These are really good jobs with a future and they should be made available to the public at large and not held in reserve for people who have connections,” said Toro.
The jobs are full time over the course of the summer, according to the sheriff’s department, with young people working 40 hours a week. Their duties include sorting mail, filing, cleaning up, working at the departments shooting range and doing general office work. Sources familiar with the program said the jobs typically pay between $10 and $15 an hour.
Records for 2009, 2010 and 2011 obtained by CBS4 show each summer the sheriff’s department hired four or five young people for the coveted jobs. Every one of the young men and women hired was the son or daughter of an Adams County Sheriff’s Office worker.
CBS4 found the son and daughter of an Adams County Captain were hired in 2010. For all three years, the son of a records manager got one of the jobs. Three daughters of a Sergeant and his wife, a department administrative assistant, were all hired in the last three years.
“The list you gave me, the majority of names I recognize as family members,” said Adams County Undersheriff Roger Englesman. “Do I have a problem with it? No I don’t.”
When asked how only department offspring were getting the summer jobs, Englesman replied,”I don’t know. I don’t know if its coincidence or not.”
CBS4 asked the department to explain how only family members are getting the desirable jobs, how the jobs program was marketed and advertized to the public and what the hiring criteria was. A department spokesman said they would need more time to provide those answers.
Asked if the program was nepotism, Englesman said, “Everyone is entitled to their opinion.”
The Undersheriff was asked if Adams County residents might have liked to see their kids get the jobs. “It’s a possibility, certainly,” he said.
Ethics analyst Toro said the department appeared to be using public funds for private gain.
“Civil service is supposed to be the best people working for the public. It’s not supposed to be a spoils system for family members of public officials,” said Toro.