DA touts meth fight in re-election bid

Photo by Gretel Daugherty—Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger announces Wednesday that he will run for a third and final term, citing the decline in felony arrests and methamphetamine-related crimes along with other accomplishments during his terms as district attorney. Hautzinger made the announcement before a crowd of supporters at Home Loan Bank.

Falling numbers of felony prosecutions and new child-welfare data show Mesa County’s five-year crusade against methamphetamine is working, District Attorney Pete Hautzinger told supporters Wednesday.

“I’m not bragging about me, but the great work that the people who work for me have done,” Hautzinger said, later adding he wasn’t “declaring victory” in the county’s meth fight.

“But,” he said, “this is a far better place to live and raise kids than it was in the early 2000s when meth was blowing up.”

Hautzinger gave a roughly 15-minute PowerPoint presentation to an audience filled with supporters, among them more than a dozen District Attorney’s Office employees, at Home Loan Bank. Hautzinger on Wednesday officially announced his plans to seek a third and final four-year term in office this year. He’s currently unopposed for the seat.

First elected in 2004 and re-elected unopposed in 2008, Hautzinger will be able to seek a third term because Mesa County voters in 2009 approved exceptions to Colorado’s term-limits law, allowing for three consecutive four-year terms for the offices of sheriff and district attorney.

“Somebody who would want to do this job more than 12 years ought to have their heads examined anyway,” he said.

Since recording a high of 2,223 felony cases in 2005, filings of such cases have declined annually for six years, with 1,452 in 2011, according to data from the DA’s Office and Mesa County Combined Courts. Meth’s mark on child-welfare prosecutions also has worn away, Hautzinger said.

Hautzinger said just 12 percent of all Mesa County child-dependency and neglect cases involved meth in 2011. In a study of Mesa County meth in 2004, 75 percent were linked in some way to the drug.

Hautzinger touted the District Attorney’s Office’s expansive use of court-approved wiretaps as key to the enforcement side of the county’s meth fight. “Six or seven” major drug investigations over the past six years have relied heavily on the extraordinary surveillance, he said.

“They’re absolutely the best tool possible for taking down drug rings, and we’ve really become leaders in the state on that,” he said.


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