Officials deny texts gave notice of police shutdown

Kiowa in rumor spotlight after decision to close department

Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 4/5/19

Headlines across Colorado recently drew attention and criticism to the town of Kiowa, claiming town officials fired police officers and closed the department via text messages. Headlines from …

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Officials deny texts gave notice of police shutdown

Kiowa in rumor spotlight after decision to close department

Posted

Headlines across Colorado recently drew attention and criticism to the town of Kiowa, claiming town officials fired police officers and closed the department via text messages. Headlines from Greeley, Denver and the online publication POLICE—The Law Enforcement Magazine, claimed the move was abrupt and unprofessional, prompting hundreds of responses on Elbert County social media websites. Those reports, according to Kiowa Interim Town Administrator Joe Racine, are bogus.

“Reports that we disbanded the department simply by using text messages is bogus,” said Racine. “That report came from someone who was upset in the community. The mayor and I personally met with the acting chief of police, and had a good conversation. He was professional and understood the need for this action.”

The Kiowa department consisted of the acting chief, one part-time officer, and one reserve officer who was not paid.

“I personally called and spoke with the part-time officer, and we had a great conversation,” said Racine. “He also understood the situation the town was in.”

Racine said he did send a text message, but only after notifying the officers personally, directing them how to return equipment they had to the town.

The town board of trustees had discussed the action in previous public meetings, according to Racine.

“This administrative action was taken by the interim town administrator in response to concerns with the level of service that was being provided by the department, and the lack of revenue necessary to support an adequate in-house department,” said Racine.

Kiowa officials are looking to negotiate with Elbert County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement services, and will address future agreements with the department in upcoming public meetings.

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