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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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
“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
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
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
“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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