Letter to the Editor: Darnell was on the right track

The city may think that former Fort Morgan Mayor Jack Darnell misunderstands the police department’s problem, but I think he is onto something. When I read the [March 20] article [about Darnell’s comments about the department] in the Times, I saw a picture with the chief of public safety with his lieutenants and wondered why he was not in uniform. He had no badge, no gun and nothing identifying him as an officer.

Well in doing some talking around town, I soon found out that [Paul Schultz] has no arresting ability. He was never sworn in by the mayor of Fort Morgan as a police officer! If a crime was to happen in front of him, he couldn’t do anything but call 911.

I think it has now come to light that we are not only fast tracking our officers but Jeff Wells has also fast-tracked our director of public safety. We used to have a police chief. Why do we now have a director of public safety? According to Dec. 7, 2016, article in the Pueblo Chieftan, Mr. Schultz wrote in his resignation letter, "As a full-time PERA employee of city of Fort Morgan, my PERA pension will quadruple (or more) in about two years of full-time service. This equates to approximately $1.1 million dollars over my life expectancy."

I think it was my understanding watching the March 6 city council meeting that Mr. Wells said that our police officers do not have PERA and instead fall under their own retirement plan. Why have we made an exception for Mr. Schultz? Or did we also offer PERA to our newest officer and is that why he also chose to accept the position in Fort Morgan instead of the ones he was offered in Parker, Greenwood Village, Windsor and Colorado Springs?

It seems to appear that the same problems that are plaguing our police department must follow Mr. Schultz because according to a March 2015 article in the Canon City Daily Record, there was an issue with a shortage of officers and them retiring when Schultz was the chief of police in Canon City.

According to a December 2016 Times article about Schultz’s hiring in Fort Morgan, Mr. Schultz is big on community policing. It is a shame that he has been employed here for over a year and his wife has not moved here, nor are they part of this community. I don’t remember seeing Mr. Schultz leading our Christmas Parade as chiefs have done in the past, nor was he at the Car Show or Bobstock this summer. These community events are a big part of Fort Morgan. Mr. Schultz wrote in a 2008 article about the decision to become a police chief that these are things that a police chief does.

I also find it interesting that Mr. Wells says the city was aware of the possibility of losing several officers in the near future because of their retirement eligibility but these retired officers have left the city but are now employed by other law enforcement agencies. As I see it, maybe Mr. Wells hired Mr. Schultz to get rid of our senior experienced officers.

It looks like [Former Mayor] Jack Darnell has the right idea about changing the charter because the downfall of our police department over the past few years has come under the direct leadership of Jeff Wells and maybe that is what needs to change.

– Ruth Martines

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