New PCSO liaison to fill alleged gaps in red flag law

    Phillips County Sheriff’s Office is looking to put another man or woman on the beat — except this volunteer won’t be toting a badge or a gun.
    PCSO’s civil police liaison will be a part-time volunteer responsible for checking in on individuals who have been contacted previously by local law enforcement.
    Phillips County Sheriff Thomas Elliott said he hopes the program — which was inspired by a similar program in Kansas City, Missouri — will be able to build bridges between his office and community members and cut recidivism rates while conserving County resources.
    “We’re trying to create a person who can go out and just check up on people who we’ve been in contact with before,” he said.
    He stressed that the volunteer will not have the responsibilities of a law enforcement officer and will be able to focus solely on outreach.
    On top of hopefully reducing crime, Elliott said the liaison will help fill the holes in Colorado’s mental health safety net by connecting at-risk individuals with public resources like Centennial Mental Health.
    He identified the recently passed “red flag” gun bill as a missed opportunity for the State to deal with the mental health issues that he sees at the root of gun violence.
    In March, Elliott joined other Colorado sheriffs in announcing he will refuse to enforce this particular law, which gives courts the authority to remove firearms from individuals deemed dangerous.
    Elliott said he believes the law infringes on state and U.S. federal constitutional protections and also criticized it for failing to mandate mental health treatment for those identified as dangerous by the court.
    In a Facebook post advertising the position, Elliott stressed the importance of interpersonal skills for potential candidates, namely personal courage, emotional intelligence and a willingness to seek out professional services to meet individuals’ needs.
    Elliott said he hopes to fill the position and have the liaison on the streets by July or August.

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