Sheriff seeks third term

Posted 4/7/10

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson has grown accustomed to running unopposed, but that does not mean he takes his countywide race for granted. …

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Sheriff seeks third term


Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson has grown accustomed to running unopposed, but that does not mean he takes his countywide race for granted.

“I don’t assume that this is a job that I have in the bag. This is a responsibility that I am enormously honored to serve,” he said. “Part of the reason I haven’t seen an opponent in the past is that I’ve earned the respect of this community.”

Robinson, 60, a Republican, has been sheriff since 2002, when he was appointed to replace Patrick Sullivan. Robinson has since been elected twice without an opponent on the ballot.

2010 will be the term-limited sheriff’s final run and his first bid since Arapahoe County’s Democratic registrations surpassed Republicans during Barack Obama’s 2008 registration surge.

The GOP incumbent says he will campaign hard to keep his job whether or not he faces a challenger. He plans to emphasize low-key outreach over an expensive political sell.

“I love my job. I love the organization. I am dedicated to this community,” he said.

Robinson is less fond of the politicization of law enforcement. To the chagrin of some party leaders, he has consistently endorsed Adams County’s Democratic Sheriff Doug Darr in his bids for re-election.

“I don’t believe it should be partisan. I have a hard time with that,” Robinson said. “Republican is just a path I need to go though to get on the ballot. I take an oath to serve every single citizen. There’s no room for politics in this office. We have a higher calling — and that’s to serve this community.”

During his tenure, Robinson has emphasized community policing and “progressive law enforcement.” He calls his deputies “problem solvers.” He views traffic issues from a three-pronged perspective of engineering, education and enforcement.

“We need to give the men and women that I work with the latitude to make decisions,” he said. “If a neighborhood has a problem, we ask the deputy to sit down with the neighbors and explore options. At the end of the day, we would prefer to solve a problem than enforce the law, very frankly.”

When it comes to writing traffic tickets — a standard police function for which many agencies have formally or informally created quota systems — Robinson says he aims for an even mix of tickets and verbal warnings.

“The deputies have a vast range of discretion,” he said.

Robinson’s duties have often stretched beyond the county. He has served on the Colorado Homeland Security Funding Board and the Colorado Criminal and Juvenile Justice Commission, among other governor-appointed positions.

The sheriff is also chair of the Colorado Sheriff’s Legislative Affairs Committee, which takes an active role in such statewide law enforcement-related issues as the medical use of marijuana.

Robinson has opposed the proliferation of marijuana dispensaries. He has advocated strictly limiting their number of clients and allowing cities and counties to decide whether they can operate in their communities.

“I support medical marijuana for those who are truly suffering a debilitating disease or injury,” he said. “I don’t support the fraud and the corruption that has been associated with it. If we’re going to have dispensaries, they need to be regulated.”

Born in Pittsburgh, Robinson moved to Colorado with his parents in the mid-1960s. He was in the Army for two years before he pursued a career in law enforcement.

“I had a good friend who was a cop who told me once that I’d be a good cop. So I applied at several different agencies — and lo and behold, Littleton offered me a position,” he said.

Robinson rose the ranks of the Littleton Police Department for 20 years. In 1992, Sullivan hired him to join the county. Four years later, he was named undersheriff.

When Sullivan resigned to become director of security for the Cherry Creek School District, the county’s board of commissioners appointed Robinson to finish his term. He ran for election in 2002.

Robinson, who was then a Centennial resident, was actively involved in the city’s 2001 incorporation.

“What I remember most about it was how exciting it was to be involved in something that historic,” he said.

Robinson and his wife — grandparents and parents to two grown children — have since moved to Aurora.

The sheriff, a position elected on a countywide ballot every four years, provides law enforcement in unincorporated areas and operates the central jail used by all jurisdictions in the county. The sheriff also acts as the contracted law enforcement provider in Centennial.

“I probably work more in shades of gray than I ever did before,” Robinson said of the job. “Part of it is the vast opportunities that this position has given me. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with a variety of people. Each interaction caused me to learn something about people, society and behavior.”


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