Sheriff: Residents should avoid phone solicitors
Steamboat Springs — Organizations or individuals who wish to solicit funds from Routt County residents should put their intentions in print.
Routt County Sheriff John Warner is advising residents to ignore telephone calls from groups looking for donations.
He said he agrees with the Better Business Bureau that telephone solicitation is not an acceptable practice.
“Hang up on these people,” Warner said. “Do not (buy into) anything they sell.”
Fund-raising campaigns are more viable if they are outlined in a letter that arrives in someone’s mailbox rather than delivered over the phone, he said.
Warner’s advice was prompted by new reports of telephone solicitation on behalf of the Colorado Law Enforcement Officers’ Association.
The Routt County Sheriff’s Office ended a six-year relationship with the organization last spring after county residents were targeted by its telephone solicitation campaign.
Public Safety Promotions of Denver, the company hired by the organization to conduct the telephone solicitation, directed some of its calls to the county last winter.
Warner argued then the telephone solicitation benefited neither the law enforcement association nor Routt County. He said he could not support an organization that raises money by calling county residents.
He still maintains the county has never been a benefactor of the organization’s fund-raising efforts.
The law enforcement association also raises funds by selling memberships.
The Sheriff’s Office paid $555 in 2002, or $15 for 37 deputies, for its membership.
Warner’s criticism last spring surprised former association president Gerry Oyen, who is the chief of the Las Animas Police Department.
Oyen said the organization has always raised money by canvassing the entire state with telephone solicitation. The organization does not mail out donation letters.
The money goes for law enforcement training programs, some of which have been held in Steamboat Springs, Oyen said.
Oyen said Tuesday the organization asked Public Safety Promotions, at Warner’s request, to not solicit Routt County.
He did not know if Routt County residents were being targeted again.
“They solicit the entire state, whether you or I or any of us wants it,” he said.
Warner urged residents to report any sort of telephone solicitation to police. Formal complaints are referred to Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar’s office.
“Ninety-nine percent of these people are frauds,” Warner said. “The easiest way to stop it is to not listen.”
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