La Plata County Sheriff Duke Schirard formally announced his re-election bid Tuesday, saying he will bring a level of
continuity to the Sheriff's Office at a time when the county struggles with a budget crunch.
We're all going to have to watch our nickels and dimes very, very carefully over the next few years, and I'm ready to
do that," Schirard told The Durango Herald.
He added: I love my job. I've been doing it for 36 years, and I want to do it for 40."
Schirard, a Republican, will be seeking his fifth term as sheriff. He was first elected in 1994. As of Tuesday, he was
The sheriff earns $110,740 per year, which includes benefits. The total budget for the Sheriff's Office in 2010 is
about $13 million - a 4.6 percent increase from last year and
18.5 percent of the county's $69.9 million budget. The department has about 130 employees - more than any other county
Schirard, 68, listed a series of accomplishments he has helped achieve during the last 16 years in office. Some of his
earlier undertakings include the creation of an emergency dispatch center, the inception of the Robert E. DeNier Youth
Services Center, the formation of the Southwest Drug Task Force and the creation of a SWAT team within the Sheriff's
More recently, the sheriff has initiated programs that offer alternatives to incarceration, overseen two jail
expansions, formed a critical-incident management team to deal with people suffering from mental illness and overseen
the installation of a new records-content management system.
He now is developing a new firearms training center where deputies can practice shooting. The old firing range was
removed during the last jail expansion. The new firing range is located south of Bodo Industrial Park across the river
from the La Plata County Humane Society.
Schirard also is working to secure a contract with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house illegal immigrants
at the jail. That would result in extra revenue to the county because ICE pays $100 to $110 per day to house its
inmates, and it doesn't cost any more to fill up a jail than it does to maintain an under-capacity jail, he said.
During his election bid four years ago, Schirard suggested he may not run for a fifth term. He had been diagnosed with
diabetes, but his condition has since improved, he said.
I feel as good now as I did 10 years ago," he said.
Schirard said the legalization of medical marijuana in Colorado has created some complications for law enforcement, but
he will uphold state laws - whatever the state Legislature decides.
I swore to uphold the state laws, and that's what I'm going to do," he said.