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'Going To Take Time': Incoming Lake County Sheriff Tackling Embattled Office

LEADVILLE, Colo. (CBS4) -  There's going to be a new Lake County sheriff in town come Tuesday. Amy Reyes is one of the first women to be elected as a sheriff in state history.

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Amy Reyes (credit: CBS)

Reyes began her law enforcement career in Lake County in the early 2000s as a deputy. She most recently served as a part-time Leadville police officer and worked for the Lake County Schools District.

She defeated five other candidates to be elected sheriff last November. But she comes into an office many say is in turmoil.

"I will need to hire seven of a total of nine deputies day one," Reyes told CBS4.

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(credit: CBS)

Reyes will have to lean on the Leadville Police Department until she can hire more deputies. She hopes that teamwork will build over the course of her term.

Many of those deputies are leaving as a direct result of the election. The embattled sheriff's office has previously made headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent years.

Fernando Mendoza
Fernando Mendoza (credit: Lake County Sheriff's Office)

More than a year after going public, several women who accused former Lake County undersheriff Fernando Mendoza of sexual misconduct have filed a lawsuit against the sheriff's office in U.S. District Court.

Mendoza was convicted of sexually related crimes as sentenced to prison.

The current sheriff, Rodney Fenske, and Dispatch Supervisor, Mary Ann Hammer, are named among others in the suit for unlawful sex discrimination, retaliation and violations of rights to free speech and equal protection under the 1st and 14th Amendments.

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(credit: CBS)

Reyes says she wants to change the culture inside the department and bring back the trust from the community she believes has been lost. She says she has plans for more community involvement.

"I want to have a community advisory committee, where they can help me hire the right people to serve here," Reyes said.

She will be sworn in Tuesday in Leadville.

"This is going to take time," Reyes said.

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