Imposing beat cop also showed soft side during 35 years of service

Retiring Grand Junction Police Officer Paul Frey, left receives parts from various wrecked vehicles from the traffic unit at a party in his honor at the Whitman Education Center Tuesday

Paul Frey was just a rookie cop when he saved a child’s life, scaling a fence and plunging into a Leadville
lake to retrieve a 4-year-old whose head disappeared underwater.

Nearly three decades later, Frey is still reminded of that event thanks to the bum knee he endured after injuring it during the rescue.

That was just one story co-workers and community members told about the longtime police officer and avid volunteer during a retirement ceremony Tuesday.

“You never had to hesitate, it was Paul behind you,” said retired police officer Ray Fox, who called Frey a “cop’s cop.”

About 75 people including officers and city leaders came out as colleagues awarded and cajoled Frey, a beat cop who cuts an imposing figure at 6 feet 8 inches tall and 250 pounds. Find yourself on the wrong side of the law and Frey was quick to take action. Mostly though, Frey’s signature laugh — which starts low and boils quickly to the surface — comes on almost as fast as his witty comebacks.

Frey served 27 years for the Grand Junction Police Department. Fittingly, he rounded out his last day Friday working at Grand Junction’s air show, an event he helped coordinate in years past. Frey has logged 35 years as a peace officer holding a variety of ranks, starting his career working as a cop in Leadville.

But that’s merely one of the many hats Frey wears. He is a longtime Mesa County Sheriff’s Department search and rescue volunteer, working with the communications and all-terrain-vehicle squads. When the call comes in, he’s a volunteer firefighter for Clifton Fire and Rescue. Frey also teaches the Alive at 25 driving courses and instructs other cops about how to detect alcohol-impaired drivers.

He is a trained emergency medical technician and holds the highest rank possible for a traffic accident investigator. A self described “computer geek,” Frey helped coordinate a technical overhaul of Grand Junction’s 911 Regional Communication Center.

In addition to giving Frey numerous awards, fellow officers seemed to enjoy ribbing the retired officer by presenting him with various vehicle parts from a crash he caused earlier this year, in which he totaled another vehicle after running a red light. No one was hurt in the crash. While the Colorado State Patrol issued Frey a ticket for the crash, fellow officers didn’t want to be left out. They presented Frey another framed ticket signed by Police Chief Bill Gardner.

“It’s been a pleasure, I don’t plan on disappearing,” Frey said to a standing ovation. “Police work has always been a big family. Thanks for the memories. Hopefully we won’t be strangers from here on.”


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