FARMINGTON — San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen presented programs, crime trends and changes he has made to the office since taking over as sheriff in 2011 during the first-ever "Breakfast with the Sheriff" on Thursday.

During the breakfast, Christesen talked about programs to promote detectives to other divisions of the office, boost volunteer work, create a Special Enforcement Team and implement standards he said have increased the deputies' efficiency.

About 100 people, including sheriff's office employees, attended the breakfast at Stingray's in SunRay Park and Casino. The event was free but people who attended were asked to make a donation to the San Juan County Sheriff's Office Foundation. Local businesses covered the event's costs.

San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen welcomes the attendees of the "2014 Breakfast with the Sheriff" on Thursday in the Stingray lounge at
San Juan County Sheriff Ken Christesen welcomes the attendees of the "2014 Breakfast with the Sheriff" on Thursday in the Stingray lounge at SunRay Park and Casino in Farmington. (Megan Farmer / The Daily Times)

Foundation President Lisa Webb said the event raised about $5,000. The foundation supports sheriff's office volunteer programs.

In 2013, sheriff's office officials said, volunteers completed about 9,000 hours of work and saved taxpayers about $439,000 in uncompensated work.

Christesen said after the breakfast that he plans to file to run for re-election on March 11.

The program to increase efficiency is called "A full day's work for a full day's pay," Christesen said.

Deputies receive points for different types of police work, and the points are tracked by supervisors to ensure accountability within the department, he said.

Christesen said it's not a "quota system" because deputies don't just earn points for writing citations or making arrests. They can receive points for taking police reports, attending community meetings, writing warning tickets and training new deputies.

For example, a deputy gets one-third of a point for writing a ticket for speeding, even if it's a warning ticket. And a deputy on day shift is expected to earn 2 1/2 points per shift.

San Juan County Sheriff’s Office Foundation President Lisa Webb welcomes the attendees of the "2014 Breakfast with the Sheriff" on Thursday
San Juan County Sheriff's Office Foundation President Lisa Webb welcomes the attendees of the "2014 Breakfast with the Sheriff" on Thursday in the Stingray lounge at SunRay Park and Casino in Farmington. (Megan Farmer / The Daily Times)

Making a drunken driving arrest earns the deputy six points. Solving cases can also earn the deputy a significant number of points.

"We want to be crime solvers, not report takers," Christesen said. "No longer are (deputies) out there in the dark waiting for dispatch to tell them what to do."

Deputies don't receive bonuses for tallying up more points than their co-workers.

"If they write 10,000 tickets a year they don't get a free toaster," Christesen said. "They get a pat on their back for doing their job."

While the program has resulted in an increase in traffic tickets issued by the sheriff's office, it has also made the streets safer, Christesen said.

Sheriff's office deputies worked an average of 732 traffic crashes from 2009 to 2012. In 2013, deputies worked 568 crashes, which was a 22 percent decrease.

The sheriff's office made an average of 524 DWI arrests annually from 2009 to 2012. In 2013, deputies made 339 DWI arrests, which was a 35 percent decrease.

Christesen credited the standards program for those decreases.

"I'm not trying to get deputies to go write tickets and hammer people," Christesen said. "But you can't stop a DWI if you don't pull over a car... And if you're a deputy, and you're out there going to neighborhood watch meetings, those are points."

Also on Thursday, the sheriff said the office has solved more of the complex cases in recent years because of the Special Enforcement Team, and the program to promote detectives to supervisory positions in other divisions of the office.

He said the Special Enforcement Team is composed of deputies who have experience in investigations and take on the more complex cases that take more time. However, those cases are not clearly felonies that would require the attention of a detective.

"Our solved cases are going up and our crime rates are going down," he said.

Christesen said he has also changed the way deputies do routine checks to ensure sex offenders are registered.

He said deputies performing a check put a sign on their window that says they are checking on a sex offender's status, and they leave their emergency lights on when they are meeting with a convicted sex offender at their home so neighbors can see what's going on.

"If you don't like it here in San Juan County, move out," he said.

Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and rboetel@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.