LARIMER COUNTY – Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith took to social media to showcase where his deputies are assigned to patrol, and why there are often few of them in each of the seven districts.
Larimer County is more than 2,600 square miles in size, and encompasses terrain from the peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park, to the plains of Timnath.
“It is very typical to have a longer response time to emergencies,” Smith told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.
Smith said, unlike the large teams cities like Fort Collins and Loveland have, his patrol staff is limited to 90 people. He said sometimes, especially during late nights in the winter, he will only have a handful of deputies to serve the entire county. He said emergency calls could take upwards of two hours to respond to, depending on the time, location and weather.
“There is times where I have four deputies for 2,600 square miles,” Smith said. “One call could take up all of those deputies, on a high risk type of call.”
During the winter, Smith said deputies patrolling Poudre Canyon have no choice but to head out of state, to help Coloradans in the Laramie River Valley.
“We literally have to drive to Laramie, Wyoming, to get to certain parts of our county during the winter,” Smith said. “They could be extended up to two hours on an emergency, and that is just the nature of the terrain.”
Smith said it was a challenge his staff is consistently ready for.
“(Deputies) are prepared to get there with the equipment and training they have,” Smith said.
Deputies who are assigned to patrol the high country of Larimer County are given large trucks, which carry supplies in the back. Among the items they carry, are
ATV’s, which help them access portions of the country vehicles cannot make it to.
While his deputies are always responding as fast as they can, Smith said the rare delays can serve as an example of why his staff always tries to establish personal relationships in rural towns. By doing so, the community can watch out for each other, when help is far away.
He also added, since deputies may be hours away, it is important to value the second amendment freedoms his residents have. He said many sheriff’s offices are very understanding of the necessity, giving residents their own self-defense, until deputies can arrive.
“We find way to make it work. It is an exciting challenge, sometimes we are short, that is the nature of the work, but there are always times you are not going to have enough,” Smith said.
Sheriff Smith said the large traitorous terrain also influences the way his deputies execute search warrants and arrests. He said his deputies know their backup could be hours away.
Smith said, by pointing out the stretched staffing, he was not complaining. He said it was a task, and job, his deputies enjoyed. With the recent approval of 12 new positions, Smith said he hoped to be able to cut down on some of those rare-two-hour response times.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.