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Open Letter To The People Of Montezuma County





My name is Dave Dove and I am writing today as a concerned citizen who is considering making a challenge for the Republican nomination for Montezuma County Sheriff. Obviously this is not a decision that should be taken lightly, and I don’t. Unfortunately, I missed the deadline to run as an Independent unaffiliated candidate.

My wife and I moved here in January of 1990 and I started a successful business called Four States Food Service. We sold food and restaurant supplies to the schools, jails, and restaurants throughout the Four Corners area. Some of you may recall our warehouse in the old Kenyon Motors building on Main Street. I sold that business to a much larger operation based out of Albuquerque and as part of that sale, I accepted a 5-year contract as an executive in the company. After completing that obligation, I started an over-the-road transportation business. We owned 11 big-rigs and 11 refrigerated 53’ trailers. Later, we started a freight brokerage business which I ran until a catastrophic back surgery and vehicle rollover accident took me out of the work force. I have been intently focused on my recovery ever since.

Many, if not most of you, have seen and remarked about the increased level of crime in Montezuma County. The number of 911 calls that come in to Dispatch has been rising at an alarming rate for some time now and in my view, there is a very easy explanation for why this is happening. We have elected people to lead law enforcement who take a soft-on-crime approach and consequently, we will continue to see the number of emergency calls rise and our community and standard of living decay.

I live on County Road 25 on the south side of town and I can tell you that crime here has risen exponentially. My concerns led me to meet with Sheriff Nowlin on two occasions over the last few years to ask what is being done about the problem. Five months ago, a criminal attempted to break into my neighbor’s house at 3 am. A short time afterward, it happened at one of our rental houses just up the road. Two other neighbors’ out buildings were broken into and while tending to her horses just outside of her house, a neighbor a few doors down was threatened by a crazed vagrant walking along Road 25. Across the street from her, another was

found camping in the neighbors bushes. He had apparently been there awhile and in his tent were many tools that could be used to break into people’s houses. My son lives two miles away and he recently came home to find a drug-crazed vagrant, looking in his home windows. He had to drive him off because the vagrant refused to leave. Some homeless people are simply down on their luck, don’t have psychological issues and aren’t addicted to drugs, but the people I am describing here do not want to commune with you or share a cup of coffee folks.

So what do you think Sheriff Nowlin’s response was to my concerns? It’s not what you might hope. He told me that we have a very serious issue with crime in the county and that the citizenry is unaware of just how bad it really is. Much of it is driven by drugs but the problem is being compounded by the impotence of law enforcement. We all see the problems, especially here in Cortez. I met with the sheriff because there are several residences in my part of the valley that are known by the sheriff to be active drug dealers and I wanted to know what he was doing about the problems we are witnessing. This decay exists all over Montezuma County…not just in my neighborhood. I said to the sheriff, “it appears you are losing control of the situation”. Sheriff Nowlin just laughed and said the problem is only going to get worse. Can you imagine that? Not exactly the comforting brave response I was hoping to hear and certainly not the response of someone who has any confidence in his ability to do anything about it. He said he wants to catch the drug traffickers because that would really put a dent in the problem. How many traffickers do you think the sheriff has criminally charged and were subsequently convicted over the last 7 and a half years that he has held the office? Without looking deeply into the issue, it would appear that number is very low….perhaps as low as zero. One thing we can count on is that putting someone in charge of enforcing the law who refuses to enforce the law, will only guarantee that things will not improve. We have a sheriff that is more concerned for the welfare of jail attendees than he is for the innocent people of our county who he took an oath to protect.

Folks, if you have no job, and you live in one the ever increasing City of Cortez facilities that are designed to provide low income housing, where do you think the money for drugs will come from? The City has become a social wrecking ball to this county as they incentivize developers to build more low-income housing in town. The City is now importing low-income residents from other counties to these facilities in an effort to change the voting demographics of our county. Just look at these buildings and think about how many new residents they will be adding to our population for this purpose. Keep in mind that violent criminal behavior usually rises along with non-violent criminal behavior, and we are starting to see this play out here now as this sheriff’s disastrous reign slowly drains the life blood out of our community.

Recently, Sheriff Nowlin held a meeting in Lewis to inform the citizenry about the problem of rising crime. This meeting was a warm up for his attempt at a third term.

Apparently the sheriff’s tactics for winning rely heavily on scaring people about the high level of crime that we have here now but this is not an effective way to make a case for a third term. What does he say about his plan for correcting course and regaining control of law enforcement? Evidently he has no plan. It appears that he will only provide lots of jaw-boning and finger pointing to distract from his poor performance.

Does law enforcement need a budget boost? YES….but only if there are strict controls on how that money is spent. Do we need more deputies? YES. But this is a problem that has plagued us since before this sheriff made all of the promises he made in his first election campaign years ago. Unfortunately for us voters, other than one occasion that proved to be devastating for him, our sheriff refused to even debate his primary opponent. Debates provide an excellent forum for the public to gauge candidates. The problems with the current sheriff go back many years and they are mentioned in the public record. If he had not hid from those debates, more County residents would know about these matters. Sheriff Nowlin, as the first person to run a political campaign from his basement, was able to skirt having to face us.

Things are actually far worse than the picture I have painted here. Many of you have mentioned persistent rumors of corruption in our local law enforcement agencies and it’s time for an official investigation to determine the validity of those rumors. Despite these problems, if Back-the-Blue signs are available again for the upcoming election, I will be prominently displaying them once again. I am on their side. Most law enforcement employees are good and decent people who want to fix our problems but until we can get new leadership who will lead by setting good examples, I fear our situation can only get worse. Our deputies and police officers are afraid to speak out about the problems in local law enforcement but we can allow their voices to be heard by taking away what they fear….retribution, and that fear will fade after we replace the sheriff. As a successful businessman who has made large payrolls for many years of my adult life, I certainly have something to offer that our existing sheriff does not. I can create an atmosphere that builds morale in the existing ranks and I will work to recruit the very best people who have demonstrated high-integrity in their lives. I would stop squandering the public’s money and we would get the most out of every dollar the citizenry spends on law enforcement. It’s time to reward good law enforcement people by paying them more.

I know from the many conversations I have recently had with Montezuma County residents that any solid Independent or Republican candidate with a history of high integrity will be given a very good chance at winning that office. There is much discontent amongst us. If someone is willing to stand up and challenge the status quo, I will personally do what is in my power (including donating time and money) to help that person win. If you care about the lives of your relatives, neighbors and fellow county residents, help extract us from this nightmare.

Let us stop accepting frail excuses for why the sheriff has lost control. We cannot afford soft on-crime law enforcement leaders and that is exactly what we now have.

Dave Dove

Montezuma County resident since 1990

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