“I haven’t seen anything this small or outdated in the state,” Sheriff Amy Reyes said of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office facility.

The office is split between two floors of the county courthouse building. Reyes’ office, the jail and dispatch are located on the ground floor; offices for administrators, advocates and patrol personnel are located in the basement.

The jail and dispatch office not included, Reyes’ staff is crammed into about 1,200 square feet. LCSO’s two administrative assistants share an office, as well as two victim advocates and the undersheriff and lieutenant. Seven deputies work out of one room.

According to the sheriff, the split between two floors creates a separation between staff. For example, dispatchers often know jailers better than the patrol deputies.

“It creates a natural division that shouldn’t be there,” Reyes explained.

LCSO’s temporary evidence room is located in an old janitor’s closet. The permanent evidence area is enclosed in caging, as the room also serves as a storage space for other county departments.

There is no storage space for equipment; deputies are accustomed to storing gear in their patrol vehicles. And if Reyes’ calls an all-staff meeting, she has to book the courtroom or a space in City Hall that can accommodate her 25-plus person staff.

In May, a task force including Reyes, representatives from local public safety agencies and non-profits, county and city government, and the 5th Judicial District met to organize efforts around building a new jail.

If the task force decides to pursue a larger-scale justice and/or public-safety center, the sheriff will advocate for LCSO to be included in the facility.

When the Herald asked Reyes to prioritize her top three tasks for a new facility, she laughed and said, “It would be nice to store evidence where you don’t have to smell it.”

First on the sheriff’s list is a secured and isolated evidence room, second is a training room and third is for each deputy to have his/her own work station.

Task force meetings will be held on the third Wednesday of each month (next is June 19) at 9:45 a.m. at Colorado Mountain College Room 701. All are welcome; the meetings will follow Wednesday Coffee.

•••

Throughout the summer, the Herald will delve into the current deficiencies surrounding Lake County’s civic and public safety facilities. In doing so, the paper hopes to give citizens the tools to understand and prioritize the many facility needs facing the county.

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