Stephen Bartlett selected as next Ada County sheriff

Newly appointed Ada County Sheriff Steve Bartlett expects a seamless transition, saying that as a member of Sheriff Gary Raney’s command staff, he already is plugged in and up to speed on office operations.

Bartlett’s inside connection and familiarity with day-to-day operations, upcoming capital projects and budget planning are among the reasons the Ada County commissioners on Monday unanimously selected Bartlett over their other candidate, Randy Folwell, who retired from the Sheriff’s Office in 2011.

“The time is not right to bring in someone who has been out of the queue for four years,” Commissioner Rick Yzaguirre said.

“We are at such a critical point right now with all the new technology that is coming online in the next year. It is something we have been working on for years. It is a situation where we cannot fail. ... Steve has been involved in all that.”

Among those projects are a new dispatch center and new countywide computer software.

Bartlett said he is already “intimately involved in a lot of the key projects that are going right now.”

“The beauty of me being involved in those is it takes away that transition time, that delay or lag effect,” he said. “I do not need to come into the office and learn what is going on. ... We are going to just continue where those are right now and get them across the finish line.”

Raney, Ada County’s sheriff since 2005, is resigning at the end of June to take a job with the U.S. Department of Justice, providing assistance to law enforcement agencies that seek federal help to improve their departments.

Because Raney is resigning mid-term from the partisan position, the Ada County Central Republican Committee selected nominees to replace him. Those were forwarded to the three Republican county commissioners, who made the final decision.

The Ada County GOP, in a close vote on May 26, made Folwell its first choice.

Folwell spent 28 years with the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, retiring as a captain in 2011.

Bartlett is in charge of the community information and administrative investigations units and special projects. Since joining the office in 2003, he has served in a variety of positions, including patrol field commander, sergeant in charge of detectives, crisis negotiator and Eagle police chief.

On Raney’s final day, the commission will swear Bartlett in. Then he will began serving out the last 18 months of Raney’s term. Bartlett said he will run for election to a full term.

Bartlett said his priorities as sheriff include continuing “all of the things that are working well at the Sheriff’s Office,” and making sure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and that “we provide the highest level of service to our citizens at the lowest cost possible to our taxpayers.”

In addition to taking over operations of the largest sheriff’s department and county jail in the state and managing its $60 million budget, Bartlett will take command of nearly 650 Ada County Sheriff’s Office employees, about half of whom are sworn deputies.

Bartlett said his first message to all employees is to tell them that they are “safe.”

“The things that we have been working on, the projects and the services that we have been putting together in our strategic plan for the future, all of those dreams and visions that we collectively have been working on together now get the opportunity to move forward,” he said.

Bartlett said he does not plan to make changes to Raney’s command staff, of which he has been a member since September.

“We are ready to go as a command team to ensure that the direction of the Sheriff’s Office continues on a steady upward course,” he said.