With fewer employees, DA has more space
After decades in the basement of Aspen’s historic courthouse, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office will move in February to the upstairs space now occupied by the Aspen district attorney’s office.
Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said he has long wanted new quarters to better serve the public. When new District Attorney Sherry Caloia said one of the two deputy prosecutors in Aspen will likely rotate between here and Glenwood Springs, DiSalvo and other county officials contacted her about swapping spaces, he said.
The new office, located on the middle floor of the courthouse, will afford DiSalvo, his undersheriff, director of operations and three administrative assistants “significantly” more room, DiSalvo said.
“We have a six-person office with half the space” of the DA’s office, he said.
The new office will also allow citizens more privacy when they’re filing a complaint or being interviewed by a deputy, processes that the sheriff’s office and the Aspen Police Department often undertake in the hallway that separates the agencies.
Victims of crimes “are out there on display” when they’re talking to a deputy or officer, he said.
“I don’t find that to be an acceptable situation,” DiSalvo said. “This is my opportunity to provide that [privacy] for the people I work for.”
Phylis Mattice, assistant county manager, said Pitkin County wants to better utilize what little space is available in the courthouse. The county owns the building, which opened in 1891, and is tasked by the state to provide space for judicial and prosecutorial functions.
“We’re just trying to make the building more efficient,” Mattice said. “It’s been cut up and reallocated through the years, and we want to get better use out of the space.”
The police department would also like a larger work area, but there’s “no more space to give them,” she said.
Emergency dispatchers once occupied the space where the sheriff’s office currently is located, DiSalvo said. The dispatching eventually moved to the communications center next door to the courthouse, and the sheriff and his employees stayed.
“Dick Kienast was in this office when I started in 1985, and I’ve never known it to be anything but the sheriff’s office,” he said.
Caloia said relocating her Aspen office — the move is to occur Feb. 22 — “wasn’t my preference, but what’re you going to do?” With the sheriff’s administration having more full-time employees, she went along with the plan.
“Everybody’s got to cooperate,” Caloia said, adding that, on the other hand, the new DA space is “like a little Italian bistro.”
DiSalvo said he will miss the historical aura of his current digs, which housed the administrations of Kienast and then longtime sheriff Bob Braudis, DiSalvo’s mentor. But it’s time, he said.
“I’m hoping this is the last move for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office for 50 years,” DiSalvo said. “I think this could be the new permanent home for the sheriff’s office, and I would consider that a good deed for future sheriffs.
“I’m hoping this is the first step to the last stop.”