Commissioners, Public Stunned by Resignation of Sheriff Justin Casey

Stunned silence and tears greeted Hinsdale County Sheriff Justin Casey’s surprise resignation at Hinsdale Commissioners’ meeting Wednesday morning, December 11. Commissioners Thompson, Borchers and Gutterman were openly emotional as the sheriff read from a prepared letter announcing his resignation effective January 15, 2020. Tears also streamed from Casey’s eyes in making the announcement. His resignation is the culmination of what he terms a “tough year.” The suddenness of Sheriff Casey’s departure leaves the county in a void and the commissioners, with County Attorney Michael O’Laughlin, looking into the formal process for filling the vacancy. A temporary replacement will be named prior to January 15 and that individual may choose to seek formal election to fill the remainder of Casey’s term. In his letter shared with SILVER WORLD, Sheriff Casey cites “personal challenges” which have effected his life in a variety of ways in the wake of the upper Lake Fork avalanche which injured him and his teenage daughters, and demolished their home last March. He states he came to the decision to resign after lengthy consideration and his belief he is not “serving the community at the level that I believe the community deserves and needs.” Asked by SILVER WORLD about his plans for the future, Sheriff Casey responds, “I don’t have definite plans at this time. I am planning to leave the area and hopefully end up in a place with less snow, or at least a place where the snow doesn’t move so much.” After recovering from injuries he received in the March, 2019, snowslide, Sheriff Casey took a central role in last spring’s flood precautions and was a continual calm and professional presence at a series of public information meetings which were held in the Armory in late May and early June. In addition to his calm approach to the potential of flooding, Sheriff Casey repeatedly drew smiles from audience members in referring to the loss of his “crystal ball” in the snowslide and the fact he was thereefore unable to predict future events. A native of Greeley, Colorado, Casey attended Alaska Bible College in Glenallen, Alaska, and from 1997 to 2008 worked at Camp Redcloud on the upper Lake Fork. At Redcloud his duties included leading students in outdoor adventure activities, managing the program equipment and coordinating the school outdoor education program, as well as managing summer camps and horse camps for the younger campers. He received his law enforcement degree from Delta-Montrose Vo-Tech in December, 2007, and immediately began work as a part-time deputy with Hinsdale Sheriff’s Office. He assumed full-time duties in 2008 and was named Undersheriff to former Sheriff Ron Bruce in June, 2010. He was elected to a four-year term as Hinsdale County Sheriff in November last year, succeeding retiring Sheriff Ron Bruce. Following is the text of Sheriff Casey’s resignation letter: Hinsdale County Commissioners: It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you that I am resigning my position as Hinsdale County Sheriff. This decision is something I have been laboring over for a long time and not one that I have made lightly. I first came to Hinsdale County as a high school student and enjoyed all the wonderful opportunities that Hinsdale County has to offer. After working in the outdoor industry at Camp Redcloud for twelve years, I was offered the opportunity to become more involved in the community by serving in a Law Enforcement capacity. In that capacity I have had the privilege of being a part of this community through many ups and downs, and have been able to respond to community concerns and emergencies. After working for the Hinsdale County Sheriff’s Office for eleven years, I was honored by being elected to serve as your Sheriff. This is a responsibility that I have taken very seriously and have strived to fulfill to the best of my ability. Unfortunately, this year I have had unexpected personal challenges that have changed my life. The avalanche that my daughters and I survived has taken its toll in many different ways. I have come to recognize that it is important for me to have some time and space to be able to evaluate and readjust to these challenges. The events of this year have brought me to a place personally where I no longer believe I am serving the community at the level that I believe the community deserves and needs. In light of this I believe that the best thing for both the community, and myself, is to resign. My resignation will be effective January 15, 2020. Thank you for the trust that I was given as your Sheriff. I will always see this time as an important chapter in my life. Justin Casey