The coroner is now the highest legislation enforcement official in Cheyenne County because of a 144-year-old Colorado legislation that elevated him to the place after the sitting sheriff was arrested on a home violence cost then arrested once more for asking his deputies to examine on the alleged sufferer within the case.
After the latest departure of the undersheriff, two comparatively new deputies have been left to patrol the county’s 1,800 sq. miles close to the Kansas border, an space that’s dwelling to about 1,750 individuals. One deputy, who’s serving as performing undersheriff, grew to become a licensed Colorado legislation enforcement officer in 2017 and the opposite deputy was licensed in 2020.
Cheyenne County leaders fear in regards to the lack of manpower since there are not any different legislation enforcement businesses within the county, although they stated the 2 deputies are working exhausting and take the job critically. When totally staffed, the sheriff’s workplace employs a sheriff, an undersheriff and three deputies, Cheyenne County Commissioner R.J. Jolly stated.
“It’s worthwhile to need to legislation enforcement if one thing goes fallacious, so it makes you a bit nervous,” Jolly stated. “However we’ll be wonderful. We’re simply hoping and wishing that nothing massive occurs.”
The county coroner, Raymond Kern, stated taking up the title of the county’s high legislation enforcement officer whereas Sheriff Jeffrey Miller is on administrative depart for his felony expenses hasn’t modified his life a lot. The deputies run the present and the previous undersheriff helps out with the executive paperwork, he stated.
Kern has no legislation enforcement expertise and, alongside along with his duties as elected coroner, works as a truck driver and a cattle rancher.
He stated he knew in regards to the quirk in Colorado legislation that might make him sheriff if the sitting sheriff couldn’t fulfill his duties.
“We all the time joked about it,” Kern stated. “Then it occurred.”
Two felony instances
Miller was elected Cheyenne County sheriff in 2018 and beforehand served as undersheriff. He was arrested Sept. 24 after his spouse and two neighbors referred to as 911 to report that Miller grabbed his spouse by the neck and pushed her into the facet of a home.
Responding Cheyenne County deputies requested assist from the neighboring Equipment Karson County Sheriff’s Workplace for the reason that alleged crime concerned their sheriff, Miller’s arrest affidavit states. The neighbors and Miller’s spouse advised investigators that Miller adopted his spouse to the neighbors’ home in his patrol automobile with the lights activated, the affidavit states.
Miller walked as much as his spouse’s automobile, popped the hood and tried to disable the automobile, in line with the affidavit. When his spouse confronted him, Miller grabbed her by the neck and pushed her roughly 10 ft into the facet of the home, the affidavit states.
Miller advised investigators he was drunk and stated he didn’t keep in mind whether or not he attacked his spouse or whether or not he drove his patrol automobile after ingesting.
Prosecutors with the fifteenth District Lawyer’s Workplace charged Miller with three misdemeanors: harassment, DUI and official misconduct. The decide signed a safety order that forbade contact between Miller and the sufferer or witnesses within the case and Miller was launched from jail on a private recognizance bond.
Miller was positioned on paid administrative depart whereas the case progressed.
However 12 days later, Miller was arrested once more after asking the deputies who labored for him to examine if his spouse was at a good friend’s home.
The Cheyenne County undersheriff on the time, Mike Buchanan, reported to the Equipment Carson Sheriff’s Workplace that Miller texted him and two different Cheyenne County deputies asking them to examine on his spouse.
“If it received’t get me in hassle otherwise you guys, might you inform me if (spouse’s title) is at (good friend’s title)?” Miller texted the group, a replica of the message included in his arrest affidavit reveals.
Deputies advised investigators from the Equipment Carson Sheriff’s Workplace that they’d obtained related requests from the sheriff a number of occasions previous to Miller’s home violence arrest.
Prosecutors charged Miller with violation of a safety order, a misdemeanor, in connection to his request. He posted a $500 bond.
Neither Miller nor his lawyer returned calls looking for remark for this story.
County in limbo
Miller’s prolonged administrative depart has put Cheyenne County in a troublesome place, county leaders stated. Since he’s an elected official, he can’t be fired and county residents should as a substitute recall him.
Three residents began the recall course of on Oct. 27, data from the Cheyenne County Clerk and Recorder’s Workplace present. The petition states that due to Miller’s expenses, “we consider he’s not in a position to carry out his job of defending and serving the residents of Cheyenne County.” They’ve 60 days to gather 25% of the entire votes solid within the sheriff’s race in 2018. If they’re able to accumulate these signatures, voters will get to resolve whether or not to maintain Miller as sheriff.
The county commissioners requested him to resign, however he refused, Jolly stated. County leaders are deciding on a month-to-month foundation whether or not Miller’s depart might be paid or unpaid, Commissioner Ronald Smith stated.
Buchanan left his place as undersheriff after Miller’s second arrest. Which means Kern will fill in as sheriff for an undefined period of time till the recall is full or the felony instances finish.
“When there isn’t any sheriff in any county, it’s the responsibility of the coroner to train all of the powers and duties of the sheriff of his county till a sheriff is appointed or elected and certified; and when the sheriff for any trigger is dedicated to the jail of his county, the coroner shall be keeper of such jail through the time the sheriff stays a prisoner,” state legislation mandates. The legislation was enacted in 1877, one 12 months after Colorado grew to become a state.
Although using the legislation is uncommon, Kern shouldn’t be the one Colorado coroner referred to as to function sheriff in recent times.
Sedgwick County Coroner Howard McCormick in 2016 took over the sheriff’s role when the sheriff on the time, Tom Hanna, was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a lady in his custody. He was later acquitted of sexual assault however convicted of official misconduct.
Different states, together with Alabama and North Carolina, have related legal guidelines.
Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams, president of the County Sheriffs of Colorado, stated there’s no momentum to vary the legislation because it doesn’t come into play typically.
“It’s a quirk within the legislation that we hardly ever see, however when it’s utilized it’s most likely for a superb cause,” he stated. “You must have any individual to take over the function and sadly that is a type of troublesome conditions the place it comes into use.”
Kern stated he has not but needed to do something as sheriff and the 2 deputies and former undersheriff have dealt with the whole lot up to now. Sheriff’s workplaces in neighboring counties have additionally supplied to provide manpower if wanted, Kern stated.
“In a small county like this it’s not too dangerous since I do know everyone already,” stated Kern, who has lived in Cheyenne County his total life.
Jolly hopes a extra sustainable answer will come earlier than winter strikes the county. One of many main duties of the sheriff’s workplace is to reply to crashes on the highways that run by way of the county’s cities. In winter, storms could make the roads extra harmful, Jolly stated.
“Hopefully we’ll get this found out earlier than our first massive blizzard,” he stated.
Even with the assistance from neighboring counties, the necessity for somebody to be on name 24/7 is carrying down the 2 deputies left on the Cheyenne County Sheriff’s Workplace, Jolly stated.
“It’s simply sort of a nasty deal,” Jolly stated. “However it’s what it’s. You simply gotta choose up the items and transfer ahead.”