The two candidates wanting to be the next Jefferson County sheriff — and its countywide fire marshal — agree that preparing for wildfire is important, especially in the Evergreen and Conifer area.
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The candidates, Regina Marinelli and Ed Brady, said, if elected, they wanted to work immediately to begin addressing a collective response from all first responders in the county. In addition, Marinelli said she wanted the county to begin purchasing – rather than renting – equipment to place around the county, so it would be available anytime it was necessary.
She also noted that all county law enforcement should have fire-behavior training to make better decisions since they oversee evacuations.
Marinelli and Brady answered audience questions at a Sept. 21 forum sponsored by Mountain Foothills Rotary and the Canyon Courier, with about a third of them focused on wildfire preparedness and response.
The person elected to the position will replace Sheriff Jeff Shrader, who is term-limited and cannot run again. Election Day is Nov. 8, and mail-in ballots will be sent out in mid-October. Sheriffs serve four-year terms.
Brady agreed that preparedness to fight wildfires was important, and he has heard from fire chiefs and others that having countywide coordination is a concern. He called wildfire preparedness one of his top priorities.
“Certainly I’m going to get on top of it on day one,” Brady said. “I want to work with the mountain chiefs to address working collaboratively.”
Marinelli wants to return Jeffco’s emergency response operations to their former nationally recognized status.
“We need to get the policies to where they should be rather than everybody working on their own script when it comes to wildfire,” Marinelli said. “I plan to cooperate with everybody.”
Despite major crimes being down in the county, both candidates agreed that they would not move money from the crime prevention budget to the wildfire preparedness budget.
Brady said since it was the county commissioners’ responsibility for public safety, which included fire mitigation, they must commit budget dollars for that purpose.
Marinelli suggested the county should look for more federal grants to pay for more wildfire preparedness, noting that it was vital to keep the crime rates going down.
Marinelli is a Colorado native who has pursued a career in law enforcement since middle school. She earned a degree in criminal justice and teaches. Marinelli has served in the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for 36 years and supervised every major department. She and her husband Bart live in Jefferson County.
Brady is a deputy chief with the Arvada Police Department where he has served for 28 years. He has led through the Great Recession, an officer death, officer-involved shootings, a pandemic and the current public safety crisis. His wife, Cathleen, is a principal in Jeffco Public Schools, and they have four children.
In response to questions, both listed the many incidents during which they were commanders, and both have extensive experience teaching officers.
Both advocated for more mental health, and drug and alcohol interventions in the county jail and for the homeless.
Brady noted that addiction was the basis for many crimes, and he wanted to find solutions to help addicts so they don’t return to the criminal justice system.
They said departments need to better focus on more mental health resources for officers, especially after how traumatizing some of the calls they go on can be.
“We have to approach (officer PTSD) head-on,” Marinelli explained. “We can no longer deny that it’s there.”
They agreed that recruiting was vital because more officers are leaving the profession and that it was unethical for disadvantaged groups, minorities and those with disabilities to be treated differently than others by law enforcement.
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