The Bayfield Marshal's Office received the Colorado Law Enforcement Agency of Excellence Award on Friday night at a dinner honoring local law enforcement in Bayfield.
"What really stood out to us was the breadth and depth for such a small agency," Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said before she presented the award. "They have made an impact in areas where we are working, such as an emphasis on school safety, and the opioid and substance abuse crisis in the state."
About 10 law enforcement agencies across the state are nominated for the annual award. The Marshal's Office is one of the smaller agencies to receive the honor - the 2016 award went to the Breckenridge Police Department.
"I would say it really is a cumulative effect of different agencies working on contributions to bettering the community," Coffman said.
These are members of law enforcement working individually and as a group to assist their neighbors. Coffman noted the Marshal's Office's work with the Southwest Drug Task Force, as well as a school resource officer program in Bayfield schools.
Coffman acknowledged Marshal Joe McIntyre for his leadership. Most small towns like Bayfield do not have a school resource officer, she said.
The office has two sergeants, Dan Cyr and Dan Abdella; four deputies, Holly Cashwell, Derick Campbell, Chris Tonge and Joe Hochanadel; and Amber Abdella, the administrative assistant. Chris Choate works for drug task force.
They were all honored Friday at the dinner, hosted by Pine River Valley Church.
Artwork by students at Bayfield Elementary School decorated the walls, and videos featured local third-graders and business people thanking the marshal's staff.
There was a somber tone to the event, as well, as a bagpiper played "Amazing Grace" and McIntyre recognized the three police officers killed in the line of duty in Colorado at the beginning of this year.
"To be a cop is a front-row seat to the greatest show on Earth," he said.
Erik J. Bourgerie, director of Colorado Peace Officer Standards and Training, gave the marshal and deputies a commemorative coin.
McIntyre also thanked the dispatchers, Upper Pine Fire and EMS staff and support staff in attendance, which included about a dozen police from area agencies.
Capt. Adrian Driscoll of the Colorado State Patrol recognized Trooper Charles Jones, who last year responded to a radio call and pursued a murder suspect, getting him to spin off the highway before he could hit oncoming cars.
Coffman visits Ignacio, DurangoWhile Coffman and her staff were in the area to present the award, they also visited the Ignacio School District to meet with administrators and members of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe to discuss school safety, "which was really relevant to what happened this morning," she said, referring to Friday's school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas.
Coffman said she promoted Safe2Tell, which reports anonymous tips to local law enforcement.
"We think it works remarkably well," she said of the program, where anyone can report a crime or concern about potential violence or suicide. "Kids have an interest in their school community and taking care of their friends."
Coffman also visited Volunteers of America in Durango to discuss housing-related issues for victims of domestic violence. Finally, she met with staff at San Juan Basin Public Health to learn about their suicide prevention program.
In addition to the agency award of excellence, the Attorney General's Office also presents two individual awards annually to a law enforcement officer and a support staff member.
At the end of Friday's ceremony, the deputies presented McIntyre with a plaque and his wife with a bouquet of flowers.
The marshal provides mentorship, help and support daily to his staff, Sgt. Abdella said.
"You can't buy it or go to school for it," he said of the marshal's leadership skills.