Colorado Springs sergeant to become Palisade chief

Tony Erickson felt a twinge of divine intervention when he ran into someone at a Palisade convenience store who went to high school in his small hometown of Simla, near Colorado Springs.

He was visiting town as a finalist for Palisade’s vacant police chief position, and he said that chance encounter was indicative of the whole process, which landed him the top job, Palisade town officials announced Wednesday.

“My entire visit was just that way,” Erickson said. “God’s hand was in it the whole way.”

Town Administrator Rich Sales said Erickson — a sergeant with the Colorado Springs Police Department — was the “best selection” among six finalists who vied for the chief’s job. In a news release, Sales pointed to Erickson’s rural and ranching background, in addition to his 30-plus-year law enforcement career, as the reasons he was selected for the job.

“I grew up knowing everybody on a first-name basis,” Erickson said, recounting his childhood in northern Michigan on a beef cow and cherry farm. Today he and his family lease more than 1,800 acres of ranchland across three counties near rural Simla.

“I’ve got some liquidation to do,” Erickson said, adding that he hopes to be sworn in on the job in Palisade on his birthday, April 4.

Whether he’ll have a chance to ranch again is up in the air, as Erickson said his first order of business is to “give the town and the police department my undivided attention.”

He can promise a couple of things right from the jump — he’ll continue to be an active member of the community, and he’ll take advantage of all the hunting and fishing opportunities that the Western Slope can offer. He’s anxious to explore the local wilderness on one of his horses.

As for a policing strategy, Erickson said he’ll be focused on getting to know all of the current officers, and he — like them — will be visible in the community.

“I want to be outside whenever I can. I very much still enjoy policing,” he said. “I really want to put a face to the Palisade Police Department.”

Over his career, Erickson has served as an acting lieutenant, patrol sergeant, training sergeant, detective, and field training officer, the town said. He spent time as a police officer in Castle Rock, in addition to his time in Colorado Springs.

Erickson replaces former Police Chief Carroll Quarles, who was asked to resign in November after 18 years on the job. Grand Junction Police Department Cmdr. Mike Nordine has filled in as interim chief during the search process.


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