(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Two candidates are squaring off to become El Paso County’s new Sheriff. Republican Joe Roybal, the current undersheriff is up against Democrat John Foley, a former lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Army.
“Voting does have consequences, vote for the person you believe will best serve our community,” Joe Roybal said.
“If you go with my opponent, you’re going to have more of the same, nothing appears to be changing,” John Foley said.
Both candidates focus on public safety with different attack plans.
“The idea is to get proactiveness back into policing, focus on crime prevention, and also an educational component in policing,” Foley said.
While Roybal plans to address recent legislation that reduced penalties for fentanyl.
“I have a really good sense of what the community needs from the mental health concerns that have grown over the years, to the access of drugs,” Roybal said.
One top priority on both candidate’s minds – recruiting more deputies.
“We’ve lost too many experienced officers, I talk a lot about recruiting new officers, but before that, we have to retain the quality officers we have,” Foley said.
Roybal shares this belief and plans to address staffing shortages. If elected, the undersheriff will implement a regional Colorado Police Officer Standards and Training Academies. The program will provide more opportunities for deputies training within the county.
“I’m hoping the draw of becoming a class one peace officer will recruit people,” Roybal said, “I’m confident we’re going to be able to double the size of our academies.”
One of the big concerns is the El Paso County Jail. Roybal plans to maximize the use of the jail-based behavioral health program, BHCON, to address mental health concerns in the jail and across the county.
“Fountain has jumped on board, I’m having conversations with Monument, and Manitou Springs has recently got a BHCON unit,” Roybal said.
If elected, Foley wants a systematic review of all jail operating procedures. He also plans to create a community advisory panel.
“As the Sheriff, if I create it, it won’t be independent standing, but I can do everything in my capacity to help support them and especially listen to them,” Foley said.
Upon election, the candidates will be in charge of the department’s more than $90 million budget. Roybal’s top spending priority is increasing law enforcement presence with additional facilities and equipment, while Foley’s spending priority is building a training culture to increase recruitment and retention in the Sheriff’s Office.