MONTE VISTA — Rio Grande County Sheriff Anne Robinson was the guest speaker at the OptiMystics Citizens Action Network's Very Important Business Engagement (VIBE) meeting on Friday, Nov. 4. Robinson began her presentation with some biographical information.
She grew up in a small town, Prospect Valley, on the eastern plains of Colorado. She majored in accounting and business management and delved into the “cop world” while attending Colorado State University.
“I was working for the University Police Department,” she said. “I worked for the National Park Service. I took a job after that with the Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Office. I had to leave the state briefly after being hired by the State Patrol. I had been there for 9 years. I did come back to the state but while being out of the state I worked for Valley County Sheriff’s Office.”
She returned to work for the Colorado State Patrol and spent 32 years with CSP.
“I am going on 38 years with law enforcement now, as the Rio Grande County Sherriff,” she said. “So, with that, I am not done yet. I still have something left to give and I hope that I still have your support when we are done with this 4 and a half years from now.”
After giving her background, she spoke of the challenges faced by law enforcement today.
“I know you all see it on the media where law enforcement officers are sometimes crucified with their profession,” she said. “I will not tell you that we don’t deserve it at times because as with any profession, we do have bad apples. I intend to do my job professionally, and I hold my people to do the same, they will either do things right or they will not do them at all.”
Robinson explained that over the years, officers have had to adapt and change to keep up with the times. She said that law enforcement here does not have as many problems adapting to the changes as others do across the nation.
She also gave details on how she feels that her job is about the community and how she could not do a good job without the support of her community.
Robinson also spoke about how the Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Office is extremely short on help just like other businesses in the community.
“I am down 15 positions right now,” she said. “This is a bit challenging because we did take on Saguache County inmates because they do not have enough people to run the jail. I am sitting in a house that can hold about 49 to 53 people, and any given day I walk in the office door, and we are between 43 and 47. We need expansion. We also have some challenges in maintenance right now that are costing us money. So, I think if we build a new facility these will be less costly in the long term. This is something we will have to explore and talk to the commissioners about and we are already in these negotiations.”
Robinson also spoke about business safety and how business owners can keep their businesses safer.
“The first thing is always look for physical risks,” she said. “What are the hazards in your building approaching your front entrance? Do you have maintenance issues that need improvement? Also, do you have an employee coming in under the influence of drugs or alcohol? What is your prerogative as a business owner or manager when you have someone like that? Do you have policies in place? Could they get injured on the job like this, if so, now you have a workman’s comp issue and an OSHA violation, just things to consider?”
Robinson said that in training she attended, she heard a phrase that she uses a lot, “If it’s predictable, it’s preventable.”
Robinson said that cameras are huge in this logic, too, because sometimes it’s one person’s word over another.
Robinson also spoke of how in an emergency and a person can’t make a phone call, then law enforcement will also accept a text message to 911.
“If you can’t call, you can text your emergency to 911, they will answer,” she said. “Many folks don’t know this, so it’s a good idea to get the word out there.”
Robinson demonstrated sending a text message to 911, and someone answered her immediately after she sent the text out.
Robinson said she was happy to speak with the public and answer questions anytime because it’s good communication.
“I intend to stay involved with the community,” she said. “It’s all about communication and community. If you give respect, you get respect, and that’s the bottom line.”