And sheriff warns expenses will be
higher next year
By Mark Esper
Local law enforcement costs for the Fourth of July weekend exceeded $14,000 and Sheriff Sue Kurtz warned the San Juan County commissioners last week that it will cost even more next year.
“We want you to understand, for budget purposes, what it took to change the Fourth of July as far as law enforcement is concerned,” Kurtz said during a review of the beefed-up police presence over the holiday that brings thousands of visitors to Silverton.
“Next year we need to budget enough money for this,” Kurtz said. “We want everyone to have a realistic view of what it costs to provide law enforcement on the Fourth of July. This is what it’s going to take.”
Kurtz said the town and county, which split law enforcement costs, should be prepared to cough up $18,000 for law enforcement for next year’s Fourth of July weekend.
Kurtz said the added police presence had its desired effect.
“I didn’t have any complaints this year, and had many compliments,” Kurt said. “It isn’t that we didn’t have situations, but we had enough people to deal with it quickly.”
Among the areas of concern that emerged this year is rowdiness at the old gravel pit along the Animas River on the south end of town.
She said five fights broke out there over the course of the weekend.
Kurtz also said there were instances of alcohol being over-served to intoxicated persons.
“And the code enforcement didn’t work exactly like we hoped,” Kurtz said. “It was a trial. We learned some things. We’ll see if we can get enough people to make it work.”
Undersheriff Christine Burns experienced her first Silverton Fourth of July.
“It was chaos. You can’t even call it controlled chaos,” Burns said. “We had a lot of calls. In an average week we get maybe three criminal cases, and we had 27 in three days.”
The sheriff’s office issued a report showing the department received 51 911 calls from July 3 to July 5. Eighteen citations were issued and four persons were arrested.
Kurtz said Forest Service, BLM and Colorado State Patrol efforts also helped keep things under control this year.
“It was a successful weekend. We had great cooperation from our federal partners,” Kurtz said.
County Board Chairman Ernie Kuhlman said the county is willing to chip in more to help things go smoothly on the Fourth of July and he hopes the town will too.
“I think you handled it very well,” Kuhlman told Kurtz. “I’m happy with what you’ve done, Sue.”