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About - Sean Smith for Sheriff | La Plata County, CO

My Story

Everyone has their own story and I’m proud to share mine with you.

It‘s hard to believe that it has already been four years since I began this journey! I would like to thank all of you for your support. It is a privilege and honor to serve as your La Plata County Sheriff. Today, I respectfully ask you to support my re-election.


My background is key to my story. After serving in the U.S. Army and deploying to Iraq during Operation Desert Shield / Storm, I devoted 25+ years to public service, locally, regionally and nationally. In 2010, I accepted a position with the U.S. Department of Justice and gained valuable experience at the federal level. In 2012, I decided to take all of these experiences and skillsets to benefit the citizens of La Plata County. I served as a Deputy, Sergeant, and Lieutenant with La Plata County until I was elected Sheriff.

On January 13, 2015 I was sworn in as your Sheriff. My campaign theme of “Expect More” from your Sheriff was not a fluke.

As a team, the sheriff’s office has accomplished real results under my leadership, producing more safety and financial accountability for the county.


Today I have been tried (literally by fire and flood) proven (to be effective) and trusted (to keep ALL the citizens of La Plata County safe and to safeguard your hard earned dollars).


Law enforcement is a place of joy and heartbreak. We experience joy that not a single structure was lost, or an individual injured in the 358 and 416 fires.

Heartbreak was partnered with justice, to get Mark Redwine arrested, after an investigation that began under the prior administration. (click through link for Sean’s press conference). Seeking “Justice for Dylan” has been on my mind since before I became Sheriff.

I was honored to be recognized with awards for “Outstanding Leadership” during the 416 Fire from both the Type I and Type II Rocky Mountain Incident Team Commanders. As a “hands-on” Sheriff I actively assisted with the evacuation of nearly 1,300 homes with no accidents or injuries. Our Team is also proud that there was no looting or vandalism while people were away from their homes.

I am also proud of the $300,000 worth of free surplus equipment I have acquired for the Sheriff’s Office at virtually no cost. No, this is not about weapons; this is about generators and mobile light systems that were used Day 1 of the 416 Fire; it’s about the only snowmobile owned by the County that will be essential in reaching broken emergency towers during the winter; it’s about boats that can be used in the searches; and it’s about donated bicycles that Deputies use on a random basis to make our trails and bike paths safer. These acquisitions are about having ATV’s to use on the hundreds of miles of unimproved roads in our County. It’s about having the only vehicle big enough to evacuate people following the mudslides on Hwy 550. Did you know that the La Plata County Sheriff’s office didn’t own a single all-terrain vehicle or a boat prior to my election? With thoughtful resources, we were able to tap several sources for surplus equipment that has been in constant use for the fires, flooding and general day-to-day law enforcement needs across the county.

Other wins to share with you:

  • I created the Special Operations Team to focus on community policing efforts


  • I invited a group of community leaders to participate in leadership testing and help me select my team. The community leaders came from the Colorado State Patrol, the Durango Fire Protection District, the Durango Chamber of Commerce, the Durango/La Plata County Airport, Southwest Colorado Officials Association, and the San Juan County New Mexico Sheriff’s Office.


Day-to-day Results

Day-to-day results are equally important – if you take care of the small details, the big challenges are easier to solve.
  • We reorganized the structure of the Sheriff’s Office and streamlined operations to provide more efficient delivery of service to the citizens of La Plata County.


  • We designed and implemented a new state of the art evidence storage and digital management system.


  • Many members of our team participated in LEAN Process Training and implemented Sheriff’s Office innovations which resulted in the largest portion of hard and soft dollar savings throughout La Plata County.


  • I brought in On the Edge, a successful local consulting company focused on organizational development and team building to help the Sheriff’s Office lay a foundation for success.


  • Members of the Sheriff’s Office created a new mission statement, vision statement, and set of values with a focus on excellence, professionalism, and community partnerships.


  • We implemented a new modern electronic policy and procedure manual.


  • I added a second School Resource Officer  and second K9 Officer without increasing staff.


  • We re-designated our patrol cars and modernized the cameras, computers, and other equipment used by deputies in the field.


  • We participated in the security redesign of the La Plata County Courthouse as it became the second combined County, State, and Federal Court facility in the nation.


  • We designed and supervised the construction of a new Master Control Room, modernized electronics and camera systems and added beds to the newer portions of the jail which allowed us to stop utilizing the old jail that was built in 1989.


  • The Operations Team increased productivity that resulted in more than 13,000 additional incidents being handled in 2016. At the same time the Detentions Team has increased productivity as jail bookings grew by approximately 1000 per year.


The budget is a vital and critical area that the public doesn’t see, but does benefit from these actions.


I brought the ability to modernize the department while being fiscally responsible. $2 million dollars of budget savings over three years. New revenue, without raising taxes of $750,000.



I took decisive action to protect the safety of our citizens during the Gold King Mine Spill in 2015 and the Lightner Creek Fire in 2017.

These accomplishments demonstrate that My Team is full of dedicated professionals that are committed to our community. There are many more accomplishments I would like to share. I encourage you to stay tuned as we go through this election cycle. Four years ago I asked you to take a chance on my vision and on me for the Sheriff’s Office. I believe the last three years have proven that I am the right leader for the job.


Thank you! I look forward to hearing from you!


Sheriff Sean Smith
La Plata County, CO