Sheriff Sam McCoy and deputies spent several hours cleaning up after the drill held on Saturday, Nov. 20, but when county workers returned to their desks the following Monday they saw what appeared at first to be the work of vandals.
Several dozen law enforcement officers from the Yuma County and Washington County Sheriff's offices, the Wray Police Department and the Colorado State Patrol participated in a simulated active shooter exercise using paintball rounds.
Yuma County Commissioner Robin Wiley said neon pink paint was still visible on the carpeting, ceiling tiles, windows and woodwork. The sheetrock walls are pockmarked with indentations made by the paintballs.
"I don't know what it looked like before they cleaned up," Wiley said.
The carpets were cleaned at a cost of $1,300. McCoy says he had spent about $30 repairing the drywall.
McCoy apologized to commissioners at a recent meeting, but strongly defends the need for the exercise.
"I believe it's very valuable training," McCoy said, expressing surprise at the angry reaction of county employees. "I'm shocked, really."
He says a previous training exercise with the paintball rounds at a community center did not leave behind any damage.
Assuming the drill could be repeated in the courthouse without damage was a mistake, McCoy allowed.
County commissioners are examining county policy to ensure that future drills using county property require prior approval.
"My biggest issue and disappointment is the lack of notification," Wiley said.
McCoy, who joined the Yuma County Sheriff's Office in 1981, is leaving office after losing a primary election earlier this year.
Wiley said the commissioners don't want McCoy's distinguished career to be defined by the weekend the courthouse was painted pink.
"We don't really want this incident to taint his three decades of service to Yuma County," Wiley said.
(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)