Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver / Dec. 20, 2022
(Douglas County, Colo.) Douglas County’s 34th sheriff will take office next month, marking the end of Sheriff Tony Spurlock’s almost 43-year law enforcement career and eight-year stint as sheriff.
Spurlock, a Colorado native, has spent his entire career in law enforcement based out of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Getting into the agency was due to a chance meeting in Colorado Springs — Spurlock met the wife of one of the agency’s lieutenants, who ultimately helped him apply.
“I really always wanted to be a police officer; I had people in our family who were family members of police officers,” Spurlock said. “I started here in 1980, and it was a different world for sure than what it is today.”
The lawman reflected on being present for the development of Highlands Ranch and the Park Meadows mall, as well as the population growth, which has changed the culture and landscape of the county. In 1980, there were approximately 25,000 county residents. The 2020 census recorded approximately 350,000 DougCo residents.
“There was never a constant here in Douglas County,” Spurlock mused, “because we were always changing.”
Spurlock first swore his oath under Sheriff Royal McKinster, and served under three other sheriffs before he was first elected Sheriff in 2015, then winning re-election for a second term in 2018. However, in the 30 years before reaching that top job, Spurlock worked investigations on manythe major crimes and homicides reported in the county during the 1990s and early 2000s.
“Unfortunately, Douglas County was a body dump location because we were far enough away from the Denver city area that people would come down here and unfortunately kill people or dump their bodies,” Spurlock explained. “I worked some of the original, early-on human trafficking cases here in the county (...) we stopped a human trafficking ring bringing young women up from Mexico and then putting them into prostitution — I was at the right place at the right time, and worked some really great cases.”
He also noted his pride in being involved in creating the Douglas County Sheriff's Office Cold Case Review team, resulting in solving four cold cases and progressing on a fifth. Spurlock also helped create the Unified Metropolitan Forensic Crime Lab and was instrumental in the passage of Colorado’s Emergency Risk Protection Orders — Red Flag Laws — which help separate guns from mentally unstable individuals.
He noted other significant programs like the co-responder team for mental health and a financial crimes unit focusing on Douglas County.
Additionally, Spurlock established an internal wellness team to help address mental health issues among deputies and staff. He noted that during his decades in Douglas County, countless tragedies have significantly affected the community and deputies — the STEM school shooting, Deputy Zach Parish’s shooting murder, and a Douglas County sergeant who died by suicide in 2019, among other tragedies.
“All those things drove me to look at our profession and look at ways to maintain some of the positives,” Spurlock said. “So we created a wellness team to look at and care for the internal functions of our office so we could prevent suicide, we could intervene, we could help people who were having difficulties.”
The Sheriff has also been working with Sheriff-elect Darren Weekly to help prepare the younger officer for the position.
“I’ve sat with him, and the advice I give him or any sheriff or any lawman is remember you work for the people and you work for the system of justice,” Spurlock said. “We are a third-party independent system where we’re to investigate and look into wrongdoings of our community by perpetrators and seek the evidence, then give it to the DA to further on it.
“Do that without being imputed by political influence, because our jobs should be the law,” Spurlock said.
As for what’s next, Spurlock is turning his attention to his wife, Stacy.
“We have some travel in our future,” Spurlock said. “We will see what we are going to do — I’ve gotten a number of offers, but I’ve asked them if we could hold off until I take care of my wife, pay her back and get her a couple of vacations, which she so greatly deserves.”