Gene Claps (D)
City of residence
I was born and raised in Adams County. I have been married to my wife Pam, for 37 years, have three adult sons and five grandchildren. I worked with the Adams County Sheriff's Office over 22 years and worked in almost every division, starting as a volunteer in the Posse and rose to the rank of Division Chief. I am finishing my Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice, a small business owner and have managed several corporations throughout the years. At home, I enjoy raising cattle, pigs, bees and chickens where we provide locally raised meat, eggs and honey.
What makes you the best candidate for this seat?
I have over 22 years with the Adams County Sheriff's Office, working from a volunteer up to Division Chief during my career. While working in almost every division I have utilized and displayed my leadership, administrative and management abilities to make organizational change, reduce liability and develop relationships that support our communities and other law enforcement agencies. I bring leadership and experience to build a sheriff's office based on trust, respect and equality while reducing skepticism, racism and unethical behavior to provide an office that is proactive, engaged with our communities and focused on their needs.
The number of crimes reported in Adams County has increased steadily and is projected to be 43% higher this year than in 2019, according to the Adams County budget. What can the sheriff do to reduce crime?
Start being proactive and stop being reactive. Work and communicate with communities, community leaders and businesses to identify, problem solve and respond to their needs. Develop community-based policing that focuses on the successful and positive working relationship between law enforcement and our communities. Recruit, train and mentor officers and staff to develop a workforce that is committed to the county and the communities we serve while focusing on professionalism, diversity, inclusion and non-bias policing to reduce staffing shortages and to keep manpower on the streets where they are needed.
Could Crisis Response teams, sending non-Police to certain emergency calls, work in Adams County and why or why not?
Yes, I have been talking about starting a co-responder program for 911 and some emergency calls for the last 16 months of my campaign. I have also talked to the Denver Police Department about its STAR program and how successful it has been. Some calls have a very negative impact and outcome when law enforcement responds to them. This would free up the uniformed officers, allowing them to respond to other calls for service and reducing response times, creating a win/win scenario for public service and policing needs.
As sheriff, you have to work with other agencies. Do you think Adams County has established good working relationships with other departments and agencies or is there room for improvement?
I believe from the conversations I have had with other departments, agencies and officers, that the sheriff's office has strained its relationships during this last administration. The sheriff's office needs to be seen as the leader in establishing these relationships. Providing resources, collaboration, training and bed space in the jail while assisting other agencies, who in turn, provide a service to their own communities. These relationships start with leadership and experience, to see the big picture and have an understanding of the entire county and the effects it may have.
What can the sheriff do to help with the opioid crisis?
The sheriff has a key role in education, enforcement and reduction to affect the opioid crisis. In 2017-2018, I identified the issues concerning opioid use and the recidivism in our jail and with several other stakeholders started the first Vivitrol Program in Adams County focused on inmates that were being released with an opioid addiction. Inmates who volunteered for the program received medication before leaving the facility and had appointments for follow-up physical and mental health care to ensure their success. The sheriff is obligated to reduce recidivism and help by providing education to assist in reducing opioid use.
Adams County operates its own academy, Flatrock Regional Training Center. What is the most important thing to teach new police cadets?
In law enforcement and policing, constitutional and civil rights are the most important topic of concern. Agencies and cadets can then serve in their communities with a better understanding of how to work and interact with their community members while repairing the mistrust of law enforcement. However, running your own training facility requires leadership, command staff and instructors who lead by example and who hold the highest qualities in morals, ethics and education to instruct and provide the most accurate, analyzed and resourced information for their learning experience and success.
What is the biggest issue facing the sheriff's department?
Administration and Administrative review, morale, transparency, community trust and engagement
How would you deal with that issue?
I would complete a 360 review of all sheriff's office functions and Divisions, re-establish policy and procedures, review hiring practices, disciplinary practices, review retention performance, budget review and recruit past and new employees who qualify and who have left during the last four years to help with staffing needs.
What is another issue that you would make a priority if elected?
Communicate and reach out to communities and community groups to repair our relationships and identify their policing needs. Communicate and reach out to other stakeholders, mental health care professionals and agencies in Adams County to build a proactive, collaborative group of professionals to work collectively in providing services in Adams County and the sheriff's office.
What should the sheriff do regarding homeless and encampments reported in Adams County?
The sheriff should work collaboratively with other elected officials, cities and forms of government to establish resources to provide mental health services, education, training, employment and housing resources to help reduce homelessness and enable the homeless an opportunity to provide for themselves and their families. To help reduce economic, environmental and safety concerns to both the homeless and community members.
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