New police department moving ahead as mayors name community reps to board
Centerfield and Gunnison cities have chosen community representatives to sit on the Gunnison Valley Police Department (GVPD) governing board along with town mayors, bringing the department one step closer to appointing a full-time chief appointed and finalizing bylaws.
Under the interlocal agreement that set up the joint police departments. mayors of the two cities will sit on the panel through the end of their terms. The mayors are also authorized to appoint one community representative each to create a four-member board.
At a Gunnison City Council meeting Jan.5, Mayor Bruce Blackham of Gunnison announced he had appointed Trevor Powell, Gunnison Valley High School principal.
The same night, Mayor Tom Sorensen of Centerfield appointed former Centerfield City Councilman Keith Garff as Centerfield’s representative.
“Trevor indicated some interest in the position, and it is my opinion that he would be a good community rep,” Blackham told the Gunnison council. “I would like consensus and feedback from you all on this.”
Gunnison City Councilman Andy Hill asked Blackham if he thought Powell’s position as principal at the high school could lead to any conflict of interest.
“If there is not, I have no issues with it,” Hill said. “I would 100 percent support Trevor, and I think he’d be a great choice.”
Blackham and Gunnison City Councilman Thayne Carlisle both said they were not aware how the appointment could cause a conflict of interest.
“I think if anything his position makes him more aware of what is going on,” said Carlisle. “You have our full support.”
Gunnison Councilman Blake Donaldson asked fellow councilman Blane Jensen, who was Gunnison’s representative in forging the interlocal agreement, if he had any interest in the position.
“Blane, you spent an awful lot of time getting this agreement together,” Donaldson said. “You’ve done a great job and a real service to our communities with your efforts.”
Jensen replied, “The governing board is not my place. My original intent was always to see that we had a community-run board.”
Sorensen told the Messenger that two men were interested in the Centerfield community seat, and both were very qualified.
“We could have gone with either man and not gone wrong,” Sorensen said. “Garff was chosen because he was very closely involved in the formation of the original Centerfield Police Department and remains very involved in the community.”
Jensen says that with the two community board members chosen, the next step is for the panel to meet to create by-laws and appoint the new police chief.
Following that, the chief, along with the board, will look at filling any vacancies they deem necessary and make assignments to officers currently with the department.
“I think the people the mayors have chosen will represent their communities and the public well,” Jensen said, adding, . “I am grateful to Centerfield and Gunnison government for moving forward with this. I am excited to have some public input in the policing process.
“…There are likely to be bumps along the way but with community help and the current willingness to adapt, I think that we can come out better for the change and hopefully have an even more unified valley.”
The initial meeting of the GVPD governing board was held yesterday at noon. Results of the meeting, including information in regards to the appointment of the department chief, the establishment of by-laws and officer duty assignment will be covered in our next issue.