Undersheriff Doug Scherar announces bid for Routt County Sheriff

Current Sheriff Garrett Wiggins hasn’t decided whether he will pursue fourth term

Routt County Undersheriff Doug Scherar is running for sheriff in next November's election.
Doug Scherar/Courtesy photo

Routt County Undersheriff Doug Scherar announced Sunday he is running for sheriff in next November’s election.

After moving to Yampa as a child, Scherar has lived in Routt County almost all his life. He is a 1993 graduate of Steamboat Springs High School, started with the sheriff’s office as a reserve deputy the year after that, and has spent more than 25 years in local law enforcement.

“I’m just going to run off of my experience in local law enforcement and my reputation,” Scherar said. “I think I have a pretty good, sound reputation for being fair and professional in Routt County.”

Scherar, 47, is the first to announce his candidacy for sheriff, and it is unclear whether current Sheriff Garrett Wiggins will run for a fourth term. Wiggins did not respond to a request for comment from Steamboat Pilot & Today on Monday but told Steamboat Radio on Sunday he hadn’t decided whether he would run again.

Before taking a job with the Steamboat Springs Police Department in 2004, Scherar spent about a decade as a dispatcher, detention deputy in the jail, patrol deputy and patrol sergeant in the sheriff’s office. After nearly seven years as a patrol officer in Steamboat, Scherar returned to the sheriff’s office in 2011 as a sergeant and eventually a lieutenant. Wiggins named him undersheriff in 2017.

If elected, Scherar said one of his top priorities will be setting up a collaborative co-responders program that could partner with other municipalities and other entities like Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The Steamboat Springs Police Department already has a similar program in place, and Scherar said he is already working on one for the sheriff’s office.

“I think it is an outstanding program, and we’ve seen it work in areas that are able to implement it,” Scherar said. “I know the city of Steamboat Springs has seen a reduction in the amount of calls that officers are having to go to and hang around on, and that’s something that needs to be expanded out into the county.”

As Scherar envisions it, the program would involve police departments in Hayden and Oak Creek. A good example of this kind of collaboration is a program in Summit County called the System-wide Mental Assessment Response Team program, known as SMART, he said.

Scherar would also like to better address retention, recruitment and turnover of staff in the sheriff’s office, which has struggled to hire, like many employers in the Yampa Valley. While the sheriff’s office has been creative with recruiting new deputies — even hiring them into the jail before sending them to the academy — Scherar said the high cost of living and lack of affordable housing is significant barrier.

“We are missing out on experienced candidates who would like to move to the area but can’t afford to,” Scherar said. “We have an incredible team of individuals working at the Routt County Sheriff’s Office, and we need to find ways to keep them in our wonderful community.”

If elected, Scherar also said he wants to maintain the quality of training deputies in the sheriff’s office receive. Colorado Peace Officers Standards and Training requires 24 hours of continued training each year, and Routt County deputies currently get at least twice that.

Scherar is running as a registered Democrat and will need to win in the June primary to appear on the November ballot.

“He’s got the local experience. He has the leadership and the vision,” said Catherine Carson, chair of the Routt County Democrats. “For him to advance (a co-responders program) would be a great addition to the Routt County Sheriff’s Office.”

Carson said while the county party is excited about Scherar’s announcement, they view all Democratic candidates equally until after a primary.

Chair of the Routt County Republicans, Pete Wood, said they are waiting to see what Wiggins decides to do but didn’t have anyone else in mind to run for sheriff at this time.

“The partisan things at the state level and even the federal level don’t really translate often to what happens at the local level,” Wood said. “We’ll be behind whoever is going to represent us best and help solve our law enforcement problems.”

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