The student from the letter almost four years ago: what I wrote in my letter and why I wrote it

The student from the letter almost four years ago: what I wrote in my letter and why I wrote it

Amber Elliott, October 22, 2018

My name is Amber Elliott and I am the student who wrote the letter that called to attention Kristin Bantle’s behavior in the school system four years ago. Her behavior was totally unprofessional and, quite frankly, disgusting when she spoke to our freshman civics class after our teacher left the room. Instead of learning about the Fourth Amendment, which was the intent of her being in our class, she told stories about her wildest cases and calls. We were subjected to listening to sexually explicit stories and about other things that are far, far too inappropriate for a class of freshman to hear, things that I still would not care to hear today. Read More

Q&A with Garrett Wiggins, Republican candidate for Routt County sheriff

Q&A with Garrett Wiggins, Republican candidate for Routt County sheriff

Bio: Garrett Wiggins is the elected sheriff of Routt County and has served in that capacity for the past eight years. Wiggins began his law enforcement career at the very young age of 19, in Quincy, Florida, and, at that time, he was the youngest public safety officer the city had ever hired. “I was a teenager right out of high school, very young and stubbornly independent,” Wiggins said. “Having no experience, I took an unlikely gamble and applied for a public safety officer position and the agency went out on a limb and hired me. Looking back, they were the one taking the gamble.” That was over 30 years ago. After graduating from the law enforcement academy, he worked his way up through the ranks. Wiggins said serving as the elected sheriff is the highlight and most honorable position of his career. He is also a dedicated family man — a husband, father, son, brother and Christian. Garrett has been married to his wife, Melinda, for over 26 years, and together, they are the parents of Cutter and Cody, who were both born in Steamboat Springs. The Wiggins are natural-born outdoor enthusiasts. They live on a small ranch near Stagecoach, enjoying their horses, dogs and other critters, as well as their many hobbies. Wiggins has prioritized school safety as sheriff and he said he wants to make sure kids can be kids, which means keeping schools safe. He also knows that public safety takes law enforcement and the public working together, and he firmly believes that collaboration is the key to success. Read More

Garrett’s fighting for the issues that matter most to Routt County

Garrett’s fighting for the issues that matter most to Routt County

Citizens of Routt County-

Garrett Wiggins is fighting for school safety, law enforcement officer safety, reducing recidivism rates for crime, addressing rising mental health issues, and curbing substance abuse in Routt County.  But he needs your help.

“We have significant issues facing Routt County and its citizens now and in the years to come, and I hope to continue fighting for your safety in another term as your Routt County Sheriff.”  – Garrett

As your Routt County Sheriff, Garrett’s top priorities are: Read More

Support Garrett Wiggins for Routt County Sheriff

Support Garrett Wiggins for Routt County Sheriff

Citizens of Routt County-

Garrett Wiggins is running for re-election this November and needs your help.

Wiggins is facing an opponent who advocates “change,” but the change she will bring is not the kind we want.

In Garrett’s nearly eight years as your Routt County Sheriff, he has proven his leadership and transparency to the citizens of Routt County and made the community we love to call home even safer.

“Garrett Wiggins has earned a reputation for his character, integrity, and hard work. From my years working with Sheriff Wiggins, I am truly impressed with how committed he is to serving citizens and visitors of Routt County. You will be well served by re-electing Garrett as your Sheriff in 2018.-Sheriff Justin Smith, Larimer County

Under Garrett’s leadership, since 2011 the Routt County Sheriff’s office has: Read More

Bantle files lawsuit against sheriff, county

Bantle files lawsuit against sheriff, county

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from Sheriff Wiggins and a Routt County commissioner

Former Steamboat Springs Police Department Officer Kristin Bantle is taking Routt County Sherriff Garrett Wiggins and the Board of Commissioners to court.

Claiming the sheriff unlawfully leaked confidential information about her past drug use to the city of Steamboat Springs as part of a plan to get her fired from her job, Bantle’s attorney on Friday filed a lawsuit against Wiggins, the Sheriff’s Office and the commissioners in U.S. District Court.

The lawsuit pits a former officer turned whistleblower, who thinks her confidentiality was violated against the county’s top law enforcement official, who was so concerned by Bantle’s drug use that he found a way to disclose it despite a warning from legal counsel that it could expose the county to a lawsuit.

Bantle claims Wiggins’ actions last year resulted in her dismissal from the police department, a loss of future employment opportunities, harm to her reputation, humiliation and severe emotional distress.

The lawsuit also claims Wiggins improperly used his power as sheriff to interfere with her ability to serve as the city’s school resource officer.

Wiggins became aware of Bantle’s drug use when she admitted to it as part of an unsuccessful application to join the Sheriff’s Office in 2013.

Two years later, after he received complaints from his child and the child of one of his deputies about the language Bantle was using at local schools, the sheriff took actions that ultimately tipped off the city about Bantle’s drug use and resulted in her being prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office for allegedly lying on the employment application.

Bantle was quickly exonerated of the charge of attempting to influence a public servant by a jury of her peers following a trial late last year.

Some of Bantle’s drug use occurred as recently as 2012, when she was employed as an officer at the city’s police department.

On a pre-polygraph interview, Bantle admitted she had used marijuana near Christmas 2012, cocaine during summer of 2012, LSD, mushrooms and ecstasy while in college in the 1990s.

Wiggins has said he felt obligated to tell the city about the past drug use.

“I needed to inform the Steamboat Springs Police Department of the conduct,” Wiggins told the Steamboat Today in December. “I had to get that burden off my shoulder and into the hands of her employer.”

Bantle is seeking a jury trial on the claims her constitutional rights were violated after the information from her employment application was disclosed to the city.

She is also seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

“In addition to causing the termination of Ms. Bantle’s employment, Sheriff Garrett Wiggins interfered with her employment contract, caused the malicious criminal prosecution of Ms. Bantle for criminal allegations for which she was ultimately acquitted and took actions that intentionally caused Ms. Bantle emotional distress,” the lawsuit states.

Wiggins said Monday he would leave it up to the courts to decide whether the lawsuit has merit.

“We will let the judicial process play out, and I hope the entire truth comes out during this process,” Wiggins said. “There may be things that did not come out (during Bantle’s criminal trial).”

Wiggins said he could not elaborate on what details he felt were omitted during the trial. He added he could not comment at this time on the specifics of the lawsuit.

A Routt County commissioner said he wasn’t surprised by the lawsuit.

“We figured Ms. Bantle was probably going to file some type of an action,” Commissioner Tim Corrigan said. “We don’t, or I don’t, have any comment on the merits of her complaint at this time, and we just look forward to letting the legal process work things out.”

A message left for Bantle was not returned Monday.

In January, Bantle threatened to sue both the county and the city because of various grievances.

Her attorney wrote she was willing to settle her claims for $250,000, but she might seek damages in excess of $500,000 if the case went to trial.

Bantle complained to the city that she felt she was the subject of gender discrimination in a hostile work place. She noted she had been passed over for promotions.

Her complaints to the city management led to some changes at the department, including the use of body cameras.

An independent investigator ultimately found that a hostile work environment did exist at the police department for several years and gender-based harassment was likely occurring for more than a decade.

Steamboat City Council President Walter Magill said Monday it was his understanding the city has recently been working to settle with Bantle on her claims against the city.

Council has gotten some updates about the talks in executive sessions in recent months.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10