In February 1883, the Governor of Colorado appointed Mesa County's first sheriff, Martin Florida, who served until the first election for the office of Sheriff. In November 1883, William Innes became Mesa County's first elected sheriff. Throughout the years, there has been a strong tie between Mesa County's sheriffs and the pioneer activities of ranching and farming. Many sheriffs over the last century have left office to become important figures in these two industries.
These elected officials also represent the changing culture of western Colorado as it has faced a growing population, boom and bust cycles, the challenges of wet and dry issues during Prohibition, and agricultural and industrial concerns.
Over the years, there have been many obvious changes in the Mesa County Sheriff's Office as well as the profession of law enforcement. From horses and wagons to high-performance vehicles, single-action revolvers to ultra-modern semi-automatic weapons, and leather-bound tomes of handwritten records to computers and digital technology, the changes have been dramatic.
Yet throughout the decades and despite these changes, Mesa County sheriffs have remained committed to eight statutory functions:
Custodian of the jail
Keeping the peace, using deputy sheriffs as patrol officers and criminal investigators
Civil process service
Fighting wildland fires
Search and rescue missions
Issuing concealed handgun permits
Many Mesa County residents are unaware of these various functions and responsibilities, perhaps only seeing the famous "green-roofed inn" on the west side of downtown Grand Junction or passing a patrol vehicle in a remote part of the county. The Sheriff's Office has been working hard over the last two decades to fulfill these duties while meeting the challenges of a rapidly growing population, an urbanizing culture, and the demands for more interdependent policing across jurisdictional lines. As the agency continues to move forward technologically and philosophically, particularly in the post-September 11th era, we are seeking to build upon the successes of joint public safety ventures such as the DEA--Western Colorado Drug Task Force and the Mesa County Criminal Justice Leadership Team, as well as to better navigate the criminal justice labyrinth that so profoundly affects the jail population and court system.