The Rural Area Deputy Program (RAD) consists of four uniformed Patrol Deputies and a Patrol Sergeant specifically selected for their ability to deal with the unique public safety situations in the rural and remote regions of Mesa County. For many years the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office provided a single “Resident Deputy” stationed in Plateau Valley. The remaining rural and remote areas of the county relied on Deputies primarily dedicated to the Grand Junction area. With the growth of the late 1990's, it became apparent that other regions of the county needed a dedicated law enforcement presence that was specifically trained and knowledgeable of their specific needs. Around the year 2000, the Rural Area Deputy program was created by Sheriff Riecke Claussen and the leadership of then Lt. Stan Hilkey initially with two deputies. By 2002 under Sheriff Stan Hilkey, the program was expanded to its current size. It has been maintained as an intricate part of the work done by deputies in our rural community under the leadership of Sheriff Matt Lewis.
The areas the RAD program covers include Plateau Valley, Grand Mesa, the Debeque area, the Highway 141 corridor including Gateway and the Uncompahgre Plateau, the Glade Park area, areas west of Mack, and the desert area north of the Highline canal. The combination of rural environments and wilderness area require specialized skills, training, and equipment to fulfill specific missions. Rural Area Deputies are fully trained and experienced law enforcement officers that specialize in several specific areas including:
- Wilderness Search and Rescue
- Water Search and Rescue
- Boat Patrol on the Colorado and Gunnison River
- Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) operation and related laws.
- Land Navigation
- Water and Livestock Laws
- Wildlife and Forest Service issues and laws
- Wilderness survival
- Gas and Oil Field Issues
Rural Area Deputies are the initial responders and Incident Commanders for all Search and Rescue events in Mesa County and spend a great deal of time working with the various search and rescue volunteers to ensure they have the equipment and training they need.
The Rural Area Deputies also have access to specialized equipment to deal with these unique environments and situations. The one piece of specialized equipment that has become their trade mark is the four-wheel drive pickups they drive. If you see one of these distinctive vehicles you’ll know it’s being driving by a unique kind of law enforcement officer, a Mesa County Sheriff’s Office RAD Deputy.