El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa and County Commissioner Daryll Glenn hosted a town hall at Lewis-Palmer High School in Monument on May 2 to discuss current legislation, crime trends, an update on ballot measure 1A and how they are preparing for wild fire season.
Maketa talked about the gun legislation and how it impacts law enforcement. He also outlined what he finds wrong with the laws and how he considers them overeaching.
House Bill 13-1229 requires that universal background checks be done before any weapon can be transferred, either by sale through a licensed dealer, or by sale or gift between private parties.
He said this means he couldn’t leave his gun with his wife, if he was going to go out of town and be gone 72 hours. He would have to get a background check on her before he left it with her so she could protect herself.
“That is overreaching,” Maketa said. “They (legislators) are criminalizing law abiding citizens. When we pass laws I think the laws ought to target what we are trying to accomplish. If it is to keep guns out of the hands of criminals let’s target those people.”
Maketa said people are worried about the bad guys getting guns but unfortunately the focus is not on laws that address how they really get them. He said that is why he has been staunchly opposing that law. He said he’s not opposed to background checks.
Maketa also said he was opposed to HB 13-1224, the ban on high capacity magazines. He said it will be a challenge for law enforcement to enforce. Anyone who owns or purchases a high capacity magazine before July 1 will be grandfathered in but to purchase or transfer those magazines after July 1 will be illegal.
Maketa said there was a previous ban from 1993-2003 however those magazines are now back in circulation because that ban sunset. There is a mixture of magazines that are in circulation that someone cannot look at and identify when it was made.
“I cannot establish probable cause or even a threshold of reasonable suspicion to begin questioning you as a suspect. To do so would be a violation of your constitutional right of your fifth amendment,” Maketa said.
Adding to that, he said there is a provision in there that states if a magazine has a removal base plate, even if it holds 10 rounds, and can be modified and extended, it will be illegal after July 1. Maketa said it should not be declared illegal just because it has a removable base plate, but to wait until it is extended.
He said he is not against preventing mass shootings, but studies done during the last ban, found that the bans had no effect on the number of gunshot wounds to a victim or the number of victims involved in one incident.
“Columbine occurred during one of these bans,” he said. “If the intent is to ban these to keep mass shootings from happening we are not going about it the right way and by the way we’re setting law abiding citizens up to be charged at a higher rate, to be criminalized at a higher rate than the criminals we’re supposed to be targeting. I have a problem with that.”
Maketa said he and other citizens never had the opportunity to bring these points out before legislators acted. He suggested looking for opportunities to amend the bills and to at least bring some reasonable common sense to them.
Crime trends in Tri-Lakes
Maketa also talked about criminal activity in the Tri-Lakes area. He said one common crime they are seeing, is mailbox smashing. He said property crimes are going up county-wide.
He also said there is an increase in stolen vehicles in the county because people leave their keys in the car.
“We need to not make it easy for criminals to victimize us,” he said.
He said they have seen an increase in lower-level property crimes, or people who enter vehicles and homes to steal. There has been a real fluctuation in burglaries over the past three years. These are usually crimes committed by youth who live in the area. He said what people can do, is go back to the basics of protecting their homes and property and avoid being an easy target.
Maketa said in 2012, there were 22 business burglaries, up three from 2011. There were 65 residential burglaries, up 12 from 2011. There were 12 robberies. However, theft overall is down 10 percent. Crimes against a person are down 16 percent.
There was one homicide in the Tri-Lakes area in 2011, none in 2012 and one in 2013.
He said in response to that, they have 48 new deputies in the sheriff’s office academy, and another 40 in the law enforcement academy, and nine lateral transfers from other law enforcement agencies. Another academy will soon be starting.
“The tax increase that the voters granted under 1A, those tax dollars are at work,” Maketa said, adding that the goal is to get 140 people hired. “I would say that county residents should begin seeing more presence of marked patrol units throughout the community.”
They have also ordered another type three wild land fire truck, as well as a crew carrier, which should arrive mid-summer.