Chaffee County Commissioners came out of executive session on Thursday, May 24, to announce that their discussion concerned a pending court case involving the operation of a Chaffee County Office of Emergency Management vehicle. Commissioners unanimously approved paying defense costs related to the operation of a vehicle being driven by CCOEM Director Phil Graham. The motion, made by Commissioner Greg Felt and seconded by Keith Baker, was unanimously approved.
Graham was served a summons on May 23, in connection with charges of operating a county vehicle containing red or blue lights. When red and blue lights are flashing, it is referred to as “running hot.” The county’s press release on the incident noted “the county’s preliminary investigation revealed that the incident happened while Graham was performing county duties and his actions appear to be within the scope of his employment.”
Chaffee County Resolution 2016-35 authorizes the emergency manager to operate an assigned county vehicle as an emergency response vehicle. Based on that, county commissioners unanimously approved paying the costs of Graham’s defense of the charges, subject to reimbursement if it is determined that Graham’s act or omission was willful and wanton.
The commissioner’s statement said “the County continues to have confidence in the leadership of the Office of Emergency Management.”