At the start of their workday, Colorado lawmakers heard words of praise for a man who spent more than 40 years in law enforcement.
Five Douglas County state representatives — Republicans and Democrats — requested the tribute to former Sheriff Tony Spurlock, a move that state Rep. Bob Marshall attributed to the “broad admiration, respect and support Sheriff Spurlock held in the community.”
He became “such an early advocate for mental health not only in the community but for his law enforcement personnel,” said Marshall, a Democrat, on the House floor on March 27.
Spurlock recently stepped down after eight years as Douglas County’s sheriff, serving through 2022 to his term limit. He capped off four decades of service to the people of Colorado and Douglas County, Marshall noted in a statement to Colorado Community Media.
Rep. Lisa Frizell noted she’s known Spurlock for 25 years and that he, like her, spent a lot of time in the county when Castle Rock was “a place where you might have to get gas between Colorado Springs and Denver.”
“There was not much there. And so he also experienced the changes that we’ve seen,” Frizell said.
When Spurlock first started at the Douglas sheriff’s office, there was not much crime, Frizell said. In his career alongside rising crime, he worked “with municipal partners and the partners within the state to make sure we’re all in a better place,” Frizell said.
“He doesn’t care what party you’re from. He doesn’t care if you disagree with him. What he cares about is doing the right thing for everybody,” said Frizell, a Republican. “And everyone’s a constituent — there’s no lines drawn. I respect that very much.”
As sheriff, Spurlock focused on mental health and the mental wellness of the community and employees, leading him to become a strong advocate for Colorado’s emergency risk protection order law, otherwise known as the red flag law.
Passed in 2019, the red flag law allows law enforcement or family members to request the temporary seizure of firearms from people who could pose a threat to themselves or to others.
Spurlock also put effort into forming partnerships outside the sheriff’s office. Since his first term, Spurlock worked with a variety of people and with different counties to create partnerships and services for the community, including developing the cold case review team made up of volunteer citizens.
A doctor, two attorneys, a business man and woman and detectives have come together to clear several cold cases. Suspects have been taken to prison and into custody because of that team, Spurlock has said.
In a partnership with the Aurora Police Department, Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office and a district attorney from the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Spurlock also helped create the Unified Metropolitan Forensics Crime Lab.
Separate from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the metropolitan crime lab opened in 2018 to serve the people of those counties with quicker results.
The local crime lab can help speed investigation when, for example, a woman is sexually assaulted in Douglas County and the perpetrator isn’t initially known, Spurlock has said.
Spurlock started as a deputy in the Douglas sheriff’s office and later moved into investigations. In 2015, he took over as Douglas County’s 33rd sheriff.
The state representatives who serve Douglas County residents and requested the House floor tribute are Anthony Hartsook, Brandi Bradley, Eliza Hamrick, Frizell and Marshall, according to Marshall.