Palisade to pick next police chief from six finalists

Palisade citizens will have the opportunity Thursday to meet and greet six finalists for the town’s vacant chief of police position in conjunction with panel interviews of the candidates by Palisade’s executive staff.

The list of six finalists, announced by town administrator Rich Sales last week, is notable for its wide range of candidates, as well as for a lack of a candidate from the Grand Valley.

Perhaps the most accomplished of the finalists is Joe Morales, who is a former director of public safety for the state of Colorado, a position to which Morales was appointed by former Gov. Bill Owens.

The post oversees a number of key, statewide law enforcement agencies, including the Colorado State Patrol, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the state Division of Criminal Justice. Morales spent most of his 27-year law enforcement career — 23 years — as the sheriff of Summit County.

The finalist currently working in the community closest to Palisade is Warren Brown, a patrol sergeant with the Montrose Police Department, an organization that he has served for 19 years.

The candidate from most far afield of the six is Andrew Bilardello, who most recently served as district commander for the city of Belle Glade, Fla., a department that contracts services through the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department.

The rest of the six finalists are currently serving police departments in other parts of the state.

Richard Cimms is a commander with the Aurora Police Department, and has a law enforcement career that spans 33 years. He’s also an adjunct professor at Regis University.

Tony Erickson is a sergeant with the Colorado Springs Police Department, and has served as an acting lieutenant and duty lieutenant, among a host of other positions in a more than 30-year career. Erickson has a farming background as well, according to a 2008 Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper article.

Ralph Maher is a patrol sergeant with the Fountain Police Department, and has held positions with support services, investigations, internal affairs, and fleet and facility maintenance. He’s also a longtime supporter of the Special Olympics.

Town administrator Sales said that there was only one local applicant of the 51 received, from someone inside the Palisade Police Department.

The community reception planned for the six finalists will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Palisade Community Center building, 120 W. Eighth St.

In addition to the informal reception, there will be panel interviews with Sales, members of the Board of Trustees and other visiting police executives from the area.

The police chief position became vacant when former chief Carroll Quarles was asked to resign late last year after 18 years on the job.


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