Eagle County Sheriff’s Office bids farewell to longtime officers | VailDaily.com
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Eagle County Sheriff’s Office bids farewell to longtime officers

Mike Bosley and Mike McWiliam put in a combined 68 years of service

How long ago? Mike Bosley started with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office in 1985. That year:
  • President Ronald Reagan was sworn into his second term of office.
  • The internet’s domain name system was created.
Mike McWilliam started with the Sheriff’s Office in 1987. That year:
  • The first episode of “The Simpsons” premiered.
  • The first criminal was convicted using DNA evidence.

Mike McWilliam’s voice cracked a bit as he broadcast his final message to the Vail Public Safety Communications Center.

McWilliam, the former undersheriff, and Mike Bosley, the patrol captain, on Thursday marked their official retirement from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office after a combined 68 years of service.

Bosley arrived first, in 1985. At the time, he was living in Florence, a town near Canon City in southern Colorado. An uncle of Bosley’s knew then-Sheriff A.J. Johnson, and encouraged his nephew to apply.

Bosley, then a patrol deputy, had been on duty for a couple of years when McWilliam arrived.

McWilliam had studied forestry at Texas A&M University, and had come to work at the U.S. Forest Service office in Minturn, where he worked for several years. During that time, he started as a reserve deputy in 1986. He became a full-time deputy the next year.

Bosley said he was attracted to the Eagle County job to work with a larger agency, and because of his love of the outdoors.

Training the boss

Both men ended up training current Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek.

During a Thursday “walk out” ceremony in the main hallway of the Eagle County Justice Center, van Beek noted that Bosley was his first field training officer. Bosley’s ability to train and teach new recruits has influenced the Sheriff’s Office for decades, van Beek said.

That training focused on big and little things that can help a deputy return home safely from a shift: “Keep your head on a swivel… where are your hands (when dealing with a suspect)?… Where are his hands?… Where are you standing?”

McWilliam “taught me that nuances and details make all the differences,” van Beek said. Some of those nuances — such as carrying a flashlight on your person at all times — don’t seem to make sense, until they do, van Beek said. 

“You’ve raised up so many to their potential — thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” van Beek said.

Changes and constants

Bosley and McWilliam leave an agency that has changed a lot over the years. There were no cell phones or laptop computers widely available in the 1980s, and police, fire and ambulance services often couldn’t talk to each other on their radios. There are many more people in the county, and much more traffic on Interstate 70.

But “Overall, people are the same,” Bosley said. “We have the same problems now as we did years ago.”

There’s always an element of danger in the work of a police officer, and the goal, always, is to make it home at the end of a shift.

But things can get dangerous, sometimes deadly, in a matter of seconds.

“You have to stay ready,” McWilliam said.

“You have to plan for the worst and hope for the best,” Bosley said. “You have to play a lot of scenarios in your head.

Bosley and McWilliam were riding together in 1989 when a routine stop turned into a high-speed chase that finally ended west of Glenwood Springs.

“There were five people shooting at us,” McWilliam said. The Glenwood Canyon portion of I-70 was still years away from completion, and the suspects were driving the wrong way on the road.

“That got a little ‘sporty,’” McWilliam said. “It was a mess.”

Working in Eagle County also means working in sometimes-brutal winter weather. Both McWilliam and Bosley recall being out on calls when the temperatures were minus-30 degrees and colder.

Bosley once had to chase a suspect on foot in those arctic temperatures.

But, he said, “That makes (a shift) go by quick.”

Over the years, there are a few unsolved cases that still bother Bosley and McWilliam.

The 2002 murder of Melba Ginther at Camp Hale still bothers McWilliam. No suspects were ever found in her death.

Good with the bad

But there are good stories, too. Bosley recalled the time he recovered a stolen bicycle for a boy in Eagle.

“It’s minor, but the important  piece was how big a deal it was to that little boy,” Bosley said, adding that he was for several years invited to an annual block party in that neighborhood.

Even with all the hard work, both Bosley and McWilliam said they’re going to miss coming in every day.

In the days and months to come, McWilliam said he’s planning a move back to his native Texas. He has family in that part of the world.

Bosley is a little less certain in his plans, but may return to Southern Colorado where he still has family.

With a combined 68 years of service, Bosley and McWilliam are both leaving their careers with their health intact.

“But we’ve had lots of surgery.” McWilliam said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com.


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