Sheriff’s office eyes Ranch Watch |

Sheriff’s office eyes Ranch Watch

Christine Metz

When a Routt County sheriff’s deputy trades in a white sport utility vehicle for a pickup, it will be for good reason.

In about a month, the sheriff’s office will initiate Ranch Watch, a program to reach out to the ranching community that occupies much of the county.

Undersheriff Dan Taylor said the idea of the program is to make contact with all the ranchers in the committee to help address ranching concerns.

It means making rounds to visit ranchers, chatting over a cup of coffee and, in some cases, using the bed of a pickup to help a rancher haul something out of town.

“(Ranchers) don’t come to town frequently, and they don’t spend a lot of time at home where they can call (us),” Taylor said. “With (Ranch Watch), they can spend some time visiting us directly.”

The two largest ranching issues the sheriff’s office handles are trespassing and minor theft, Taylor said.

Through the program, deputies can find out who is having trespass problems and give advice on how to solve those problems and where to post signs. Recommendations also will be given on how to protect livestock and ranching equipment from being taken.

The Ranch Watch program will help in enforcing fencing, branding and water laws, Sheriff John Warner said.

Taylor has hopes the designated deputy will be able to recognize brands from different ranches, knowledge that will come in handy when loose livestock are reported on roadways.

“It is all about getting out and talking with the ranchers, finding out what their problems and concerns are,” Taylor said.

The Ranch Watch program is statewide and shares a philosophy similar to the statewide ElderWatch program, which already is instituted in Routt County. ElderWatch is a project to prevent the financial exploitation of seniors.

Ranch Watch has been implemented in other Colorado counties, including Moffat County, where it has been a success, Taylor said. The Routt County Sheriff’s Office was hoping to start its program in 2003 but was unable to because of financial constraints.

The deputy in charge of the Ranch Watch program will be assigned from within the sheriff’s office; two qualified candidates have applied, Taylor said. The duties will be in addition to the officer’s other tasks.

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