During the year he campaigned for sheriff, Mark Taylor put a great deal of thought into his mission, vision and values for the Delta County Sheriff's Office. He shared that vision one-on-one with every employee of the sheriff's office, and now with the readers of the DCI.
"It's one thing being undersheriff, another sitting behind this desk and gaining a bit of experience," Sheriff Taylor said. "I know I'm not going to see the complete picture until I sit behind this desk for a little bit."
"My intent remains the same, but there may be some minor changes moving forward."
He cites the importance of teamwork, integrity, fairness and personal responsibility as the sheriff's office strives to provide the highest quality of law enforcement services to the people who live, work and visit our county."
"We are very, very fortunate that Fred McKee left a good solid foundation to work from, but we do not want to remain stagnant. Going forward, we want to build on that foundation. I can't do that alone. I need the help of each and every employee in this office. Quinn [Archibeque, undersheriff] and I both feel the employees are excited and willing to do what they can to help build on that foundation."
In addition to appointing Archibeque undersheriff, Taylor has surrounded himself with a leadership team that includes Lt. Bill Palmer, Sgt. David Strait, Sgt. Daniel Abeyta, Sgt. Keith Sanders and Sgt. Gates Shaklee, who was recently promoted from patrol deputy.
Sgt. Keith Sanders is a lateral transfer from Montrose County, along with his K-9 partners Oxx and Roo.
The office has three investigators -- Norm Shaw, Matt Brewer and Tyler Becker -- and a fourth slot that has been filled on a rotating basis. Taylor plans to revisit this position mid-year, to decide whether to add a fourth full-time investigator or continue to rotate that position.
The newest patrol deputy is Steve Burruss, a former Montrose County detective, patrol sergeant and interim patrol lieutenant. "As a certified polygrapher, he will be a great resource for this office," Taylor said.
In addition to patrol deputies, the staff of 70 includes dedicated detention officers, dispatchers, a "skeleton" work release crew, courthouse security, kitchen staff, administrative personnel, emergency management and victim services.
Many roles require 24/7 coverage, including holidays and weekends, and the ability to handle challenging situations with stamina, intelligence and emotional stability.
Under values he states: "Fundamental to delivery of professional police service is the fair and equitable treatment of all individuals. Whether citizen or employee, all must be treated with dignity and respect."
The county's 2019 budget provides funds for two additional patrol deputies, which Taylor said will help address a steadily increasing number of criminal incidents. "The majority of crimes we see in Delta County are related to illegal drug activity, so we will be aggressive and progressive in investigating illegal drug activity. Sgt. Sanders and his K-9 team will be a valuable resource in that effort."
Bringing down the criminal strongholds in Delta County will require collaboration with other county departments, as well as municipal law enforcement agencies. "This office has had a great working relationship with the chiefs and marshals in Delta County, and I expect that to continue, if not get better."
Taylor said one of the biggest hurdles moving forward is mental health. That continues to be a challenge statewide. As sheriff, Fred McKee was instrumental in facilitating a mental health clinician for the jail. Mental health responders are also available to accompany deputies on calls. They can provide immediate assistance, then arrange for continuing treatment as needed.
Taylor's 30-year career with the Delta County Sheriff's Office includes 16 years as undersheriff under Fred McKee. "I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the heartbeat of this office and this community.
"I'm extremely pleased and excited to be in this office as 24th sheriff of Delta County. I completely understand and realize that this office is the office of the citizens of Delta County and I'm only occupying this office for a short time."