Prowers County Commissioners Discuss Department with Sheriff Zordel

Prowers County Courthouse

Prowers County Courthouse

Prowers County Sheriff, Sam Zordel, provided a general update of his department’s activities with the Prowers County Commissioners on Tuesday, March 28th.

Commissioner Buxton-Andrade asked if any progress has been made identifying the person who impersonated a deputy, stopping a 19 year old girl in the Wiley area last month. Zordel replied that there is a lead that is being followed, “We have an idea of who it might be.  A traffic stop last week revealed some information, but it wasn’t an exact match.”  Zordel said a similar stop occurred a week ago in La Junta, but the vehicle used in that fake stop was not a match with the silver Crown Vic that was used by the impersonator in Prowers County.  He added that the driver could have driven to the Wiley C-Store and that might have prevented any further contact.  He explained to the commissioners that he wouldn’t recommend that someone drive five additional miles to a lighted area if a stop were done at night and the driver had suspicions.  He said that the department’s cars in Prowers County are fully marked, as well as deputies and he had no problem with someone making a confirmation call to the dispatch center to verify the legality of the traffic stop.

Exposed HVAC and Electric Wires in Commissioner's Chambers

Exposed HVAC and Electric Wires in Commissioner’s Chambers

The discussion also focused on the condition of the Prowers County Jail. There have been times when the facility is at a maximum of 57 inmates and Zordel said the jail averages about 50 persons per day.  When the numbers go beyond the maximum, Zordel explained that felony and mandatory arrests take priority for placing prisoners, but that has not occurred in the last month.  “We do face some problems with juveniles and the woman’s pod,” he said, adding, “We can hold five women; that was the way the jail was built, but we can accommodate upwards of seven to ten at times.”  He said overcrowding causes a closing of the work-release program to make some more room and that is a loss of revenue to the jail.  The sheriff said they are working to add some extra bunks to the woman’s pod to see how well that works.  He and the commissioners discussed the pros and cons for establishing a regionally centered jail that would accommodate several counties.  Zordel said that would lessen the number of people on his staff to maintain a local jail, but would see an increase in driving time and costs for court arraignments from outside the area.

Some leaking fresh water pipes have been encountered, mostly pinholes in the copper, but part of the problem is a small leak cannot be immediately detected through thick sheetrock or cinderblock used in the construction. “We’re okay on the water backflow mandate from the state and the sewers are working better now since we had repairs done several years ago.

The sheriff is continuing his interest in passing an ordinance governing the number of marijuana plants residents can have in the county. He said the current system, which allows six plants per adult at a residence, can be played.  “If two more adults live in the same residence, that allows a total of 24 to be grown and it can snowball from there,” he explained.  Zordel wants to prevent growers from establishing an additional site outside the primary residence and wants to make sure the facilities are indoors and securely locked. Other counties are attempting to enact similar ordinances and he wants to see the outcome.  The sheriff said the general population is under the impression that marijuana is now legal since the passage of Amendment 64, but there are still some restrictions that residents have to abide by.

By Russ Baldwin

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