Mancos: A Law Enforcement Story

A Focus on Leadership, Morale, and Community Engagement Lead to Success for Mancos Law Enforcement

By: Justen Goodall, Mancos town marshal
Photos provided by: Tom Vaughan, Fevafotos

Municipalities across Colorado also report experiencing difficulties with police recruitment and retention.

Respondents reported seeing the impact of housing supply and affordability issues when it comes to attracting and retaining candidates. Other respondents noted that the existing staffing shortages can lead to burnout among the remaining staff, thus exacerbating the issue.

Municipalities are using several common strategies to boost police recruitment and retention, including covering the cost of the police academy for new recruits, increasing training opportunities and providing tuition reimbursement, ensuring pay and benefits are competitive, and offering hiring bonuses.

The Town of Mancos has also struggled to recruit qualified applicants, but they have found that by focusing on employee morale, engaging with the community, and developing leadership skills, they can maintain a strong and united department. Find that story below the following State of Our Cities & Towns data.

Police Recruitment Challenges

Current public perception of police and recent changes to state law were the most common barriers to police recruitment faced by mid-size and large municipalities, while the most common barriers for small municipalities were rural location and inadequate pay.

Police Retention Challenges

For police retention, mid-size and large municipalities once again reported that the most common barrier was public perception of police, while departments in smaller town were more likely to report challenges due to inadequate pay and loss to other departments.

The Town of Mancos, located in Southwest Colorado, has a population of 1,600 within the town and 4,400 in the valley. The Mancos Marshal’s Office, like other law enforcement agencies, has struggled to recruit qualified applicants over the years. Multiple social, political, and economic forces simultaneously shape recruitment and retention efforts. Current public perception of law enforcement limits interest in the profession and is a barrier. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to address these challenges, considering the complexity and wide variety of municipalities’ needs. Yet, focusing on employee morale, community engagement, and developing leadership skills has helped Mancos maintain a healthy and robust law enforcement department over the last several years.

The Mancos Marshal’s Office has found that the most important factor in recruitment and retention is keeping morale high within the department. Integrity and professionalism are values that we adhere to, and the Town supports its officers by helping to ensure the community we serve knows that we hold individual officers and the department as a whole to these high standards. This allows the officers to come to work and feel respected and appreciated by the community as peace officers. Our department strengthens this by focusing on community policing and outreach, with the understanding that not every citizen will be happy with the outcome. Individual officers are often out and about in the community, outside of their vehicles. This makes them more visible and approachable by the public.

And finally, we have found that supporting our team’s leadership skills and investing in professional development helps engender confidence and trust in the Town as an employer. We feel it is important to empower the individual officer to excel in his or her growth. The individual deputy is encouraged to find solutions on his or her own and then debriefed to find and workout better solutions for the future if needed. As we all know, there are no two incidents that are the same and each has its own unique challenges.

Every municipality in Colorado has its own distinctive hurdles with recruitment and retention. These are just a few ways the Mancos Marshal’s Office has been able to retain experienced and professional officers.

Professionalism and integrity are both very evident in the Mancos Marshal’s Office, which has more than 70 years of combined service. We are extremely lucky and proud of our law enforcement team. 

Mayor Queenie Barz

Read More from State of Our Cities and Towns