Hotchkiss Police Department 2021

Hotchkiss Police Department (l-r) Marshal Scott Green, Officer Brian Berger, Community Service Officer Joann Katzer, Officer Neil Ferguson and Officer Julia Thompson

Hotchkiss Marshal Scott Green had the privilege of welcoming three new staff members for the newly named Hotchkiss Police Department. Town trustees unanimously approved the name change during the Oct. 14 meeting following the recommendation of Green.

Mayor Larry Wilkening told the board that his first concern with the name change was the potential cost to the town to rebrand the department. After looking further into the matter, Wilkening said most of the rebranding has already taken place.

“Most of that’s already been done over the years. We have something already in our books calling it the Hotchkiss Police Department,” Wilkening told the board. “I don’t know when it changed to the Hotchkiss Marshal’s Department, so many years ago, but our ticket books already say Hotchkiss Police Department. Anything else we do is pretty digital so, any costs involved for literature and stationery, that’s going to be minimal.”

Green said the change should help reduce some of the confusion with the terms now being used in the department and community. He said the term ‘deputy’ often gets confused with the Delta County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

“This is going to clarify it. I am getting ready to do a complete rewrite for our policies for the town and Hotchkiss Police Department, so, before I get too deep into it, it would be better to have it done now,” Green told the board prior to the final approval.

Earlier in the meeting, Green swore in Deputy Brian Berger and Deputy Neil Ferguson. Both officers came over from the Paonia Police Department. Ferguson served as the Chief of Police for Paonia before leaving the department in August. Berger soon followed.

JoAnn Katzer, who will serve as the Hotchkiss Police Department’s Community Service Officer was also sworn in by Green. She previously served in Paonia.

Trustees unanimously approved Resolution 2021-07 providing for a fee to register sex offenders through the police department. Marshal Green said the initial set-up fee would be $75.00 and then $25.00 annually. The new fee structure will be used to defray employee time at the department.

“We don’t have one in place right now,” Green told the board. “I am going to go a little bit further than we did before. We’re going to start doing some visits and sight checks before we just sign off on it. Rather than just having the applicant come in, fill it out and just throw it in a filing cabinet, we’re going to go more in depth.”

In addition to the changes at the police department, the board directed town staff to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new Municipal Judge following the resignation of Judge Lynn French.

“I spoke to Judge French and he indicated a willingness to step down effective January 1. So, provided that trustees are inclined to accept that resignation, I would suggest that we put together an RFP and initiate the hiring process,” advised Town Attorney Bo Nerlin.

It was recommended that the hiring committee for the new municipal judge be made up of Marshal Green, Mayor Wilkening and Trustees Mary Hockenbery and Patrick Webb.

Lisa Young is a staff writer for the Delta County Independent

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