SOUTH FORK— South Fork Police Chief Don McDonald has announced that he plans to run for the Rio Grande County Sheriff position in November of 2018.
McDonald was elected police chief just a little over a year ago and now has plans to further his law enforcement career and run for sheriff. “I am going to do what I have done here in South Fork and that is go to the people. We need their trust and we need them to be our eyes and ears out there,” stated the chief.
McDonald has been busy in South Fork— first, cracking a sexual assault case involving an eight-year-old child and then working closely on an embezzlement case with a local grocery store. The chief has it in his mind that any community is better served by law enforcement officials when there is a strong foundation of trust and has proven the thought behind his motives to be successful. “My goal is to reform the trust we need to be better servants to our community,” continued McDonald.
Shortly after McDonald was hired in June 2016, he explained his background, his level of law enforcement experience and his goals to reach out to the community in which he planned to serve. McDonald stated that he had tried to retire three times, failing miserably each and every time. Coming back out of retirement and taking the position of South Fork chief of police, McDonald was eager to continue to change the community he loves.
McDonald and his wife visited the South Fork area after he retired from the Fountain, Colo. Police force where he was originally sworn into service in December 1990. At the time, McDonald was still in active service with the U.S. Army. McDonald was honorably discharged after 21 years in the military as a first sergeant and spent his retirement years as an officer in Fountain.
When the couple came to South Fork, McDonald had every intention of spending his retirement years in peace and quiet. However he found that just like with his two previous tries, his retirement years would come to an end when he accepted a part-time position on the South Fork police force, which in turn drove him to the chief position.
McDonald had three goals to begin with. The first of which was to open up to the community of South Fork and roll out the welcome mat. McDonald began working on his first goal by opening up the current office, moving furniture and office equipment to make the room more welcoming to the general public. In addition, McDonald stepped out into the community introducing himself and beginning the task of building a foundation of trust with the local and visiting residents.
The chief planned to use people visiting the area as a base to begin gaining trust. His hope was to send visitors home with a trusting impression of law enforcement. With a national mistrust of law enforcement, he wanted to make an effort to change that.
McDonald also planned to create a firm line of communication with local business owners. After just two weeks of being in his position, people had reached out to him, either to just talk or to make reports of things they were previously unsure of reporting.
McDonald also established a friendly and efficient working relationship with neighboring agencies. The Mineral County Sheriff’s office, Rio Grande Sheriff’s office and the Colorado State Patrol are welcome to use the South Fork office as a substation to do reports, take breaks or utilize for other business purposes.
McDonald has been successful in his goals and has received feedback from the South Fork community while forming a level of trust that had been betrayed in the past. McDonald stated that he plans to do the same in Rio Grande County—reach out to the public for help and form trust within the communities in the county.