Native son takes over helm at Eagle Police Department | VailDaily.com

Native son takes over helm at Eagle Police Department

Eagle's new police chief is a self-proclaimed "Vail Valley kid."

"I grew up in Vail and graduated from Battle Mountain High School," said Chief Joe Staufer. "I grew up in the Vail Valley and I am happy to have returned. I am familiar with the unique perspectives, opportunities, service needs and quality of life demands of our community."

Earlier this month, the Eagle Town Boad voted unanimously to approve a two-year contract for Staufer.

"Staufer has shown his leadership these past months while the department has been through significant changes," said Eagle Town Manager Jon Stavney. "Placing confidence in Staufer provides stability as the department implements a battery of recommendations from a third-party consultant who recently reviewed the departments's policies and practices."

Staufer has been with the Eagle Police Department for three years and said taking over as Eagle's new police chief reflects the next step for the career trajectory he envisioned.

"Essentially, I have prepared myself to be in a upper management/leadership postion," he said. "I had a road map in mind, but this opportunity came just a little bit early."

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However, Staufer noted that he learned earlier in his career to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. A few years ago, when he was working for the Breckenridge Police Department, he was offered a mid-management position fairly early on in his career. He turned down the post, thinking he wasn't quite ready for it. As time passed, Staufer came to regret that decision.

"I told myself I would never pass up another opportunity," he said.

Hospitality to law enforcement

While he was growing up in the valley, Staufer always figured he would follow his restauranteer father Herman Staufer into the hospitality business.

After studying hotel hospitality, he was working at the Lodge at Vail when his buddy Tom Sheely of the Vail Police Department invited him on a couple of ride-alongs. "That's when I began to change my interest," said Staufer.

He enrolled in the criminal justice program at Metro State College, where he minored in sociology. After earning his bachelor's degree he enrolled at the Arapahoe Community College Police Academy where he graduated first in his class. From there, he was hired at the Breckenridge Police Department. He remained with the department for 12 years where he earned a Police Department Leadership Award and the Town of Breckenridge Everyday Leader Award. He attained the rank of sergeant and he led the community service officer unit.

When he left Breckenridege, Staufer spent two years at the Dillon Police Department where he received a Lifesaving Award.

While he was working in Dillon, a special training session brought him to Eagle one day. During that session he struck up a conversation with Eagle Police Lt. Terry Simpkins. Staufer mentioned to Simpkins that he would be interested in any mid-management law enforcement positions that might come up in the area. When the sergeant job opened in Eagle a few months later, Simpkins gave him a call.

Coming home

Before he accepted the Eagle job, Staufer did his own research in the community. He talked to residents and business owners in addition to town officials.

"I found that everyone felt very safe in this community," he said. "What particularly interested me about the community is it has grown so much, but people here still look out for one another."

Staufer was impressed by Eagle's sense of community and thought the local police force played an important part in that dynamic. He took the job.

"The town of Eagle is a friendly mountain town," said Staufer. "We are proud to have so many citizens whose partnership continues to influence our low crime rate and quality of life we all enjoy."

What's ahead

As he takes over leadership of the Eagle Police Department, Staufer said his first challenge is team building. There are currently a couple of officer openings in the Eagle police ranks.

"We have a team of dedicated professionals and a variety of resources to assist our community and guests," said Staufer. "Our officers are trained to solve problems, offer resources and provide the quality of life we have come to enjoy in our town."

Early on in the new year, Staufer will launch a "Cup of jo with Joe" program — an informal sit down at local coffee houses where residents can ask questions and learn more about Eagle Police. Additionally, Staufer wants to expand the department's outreach services including the addition of a part-time school resource officer.

Beyond that, Staufer said he envisions the Eagle Police Department expanding its role as an intregral part of the overall community.

"I think the best part about being a police officer i being out in the community and being part of the change. It's great knowing I can make a difference in the community where I grew up," said Staufer.