Meet the new faces of law enforcement valley-wide
Colorado State Patrol and Avon Police Department have welcomed new law enforcement professionals to their ranks recently. In a field with a diminishing workforce, new officers within these agencies showed up to serve and protect the Eagle County community.
Colorado State Patrol
Jean “Alex” Baidet
28-year-old Colorado State Trooper Alex Baidet was born and raised in Miami, Florida.
“It’s safe to say it took some time and effort to adjust to the climate in the Rocky Mountain region,” Baidet said.
Baidet received his degree in criminology with a focus in National Security studies from Florida International University. While attending the university, Baidet said he attended a homicide investigation course taught by a veteran Miami-Dade Police detective, which inspired him to want to go into law enforcement himself.
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“After hearing all of the cases he was a part of and the countless hours he dedicated to his career, I knew I wanted to be that resource for people who didn’t have the resource to help themselves,” Baidet said.
After graduating, Baidet said he was employed by Homeland Security Investigations in Miami. However, he made it out west when he got a job in Denver as a deputy sheriff.
As he is adjusting to working in the Vail Valley as a Colorado State Patrol trooper, Baidet said it has been exciting to get to know the community and serve those within it.
“I have enjoyed hiking, road biking, snowboarding and eating at all these great restaurants in this community,” Baidet said. “I can’t explain how rewarding it has been doing my part in safeguarding the Vail Valley area and engaging in this community.”
Despite the rewarding nature of the job, Baidet said some challenges are built into the job. For him, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is difficult, especially with a family and spouse at home.
“Shift work can be very challenging and the hours worked can be very demanding,” Baidet said.
The trooper explained that prior to starting a career in law enforcement, it is helpful to be disciplined with a routine—including sleep, diet, exercise and hobbies. This way, adjusting to the demanding nature of the job can be easier and “will help you maintain your longevity in this field,” Baidet said.
“The community depends on us to deliver and it’s up to us to always be prepared when our number is called,” Baidet said.
The vision of the Colorado State Patrol is to create safer and more resilient communities statewide, Baidet said. Working alongside local law enforcement agencies, Colorado State Patrol troopers like Baidet do what they can to execute this goal.
Baidet said it is important for community members to get out there and get to know their local law enforcement officers. He encouraged anyone to engage with himself or any other uniformed officer in the valley. Community events also offer a good opportunity to do so. Taking the time to get to know the person behind the badge is something Baidet said community members should consider.
“We are more than just a badge number, we are just like you; we laugh, we hurt, we love, we are not perfect, we mourn, but most importantly we are ready when you need us,” Baidet said.
State trooper Christopher Kiger is a Colorado native who was born and raised in Colorado Springs. The 37-year-old enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and three children.
Kiger said he has always wanted to work in law enforcement, so his career with Colorado State Patrol was a long time coming.
“I want to help make a difference and give back to my community,” Kiger said.
Knowing all the regulations necessary for state troopers as well as conducting heaps of report writing is the most challenging aspect of law enforcement to Kiger. However, he said these elements that just “go along with the job” are worth being able to serve and make an impact within the community alongside other individuals passionate about doing the same.
“I love working for the state patrol, my coworkers are my family,” Kiger said. “We take care of each other with a common goal to all go home safe at the end of our day.”
26-year-old State Trooper Brett Crowther is also a Colorado native. Having grown up in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, Crowther said he has always been passionate about outdoor activities like hunting and fishing.
Being raised in a family with members in law enforcement influenced Crowther’s decision to enter the field.
“My father retired from Colorado State Patrol after 28 years and has always been my biggest influence,” Crowther said.
Crowther started his journey in law enforcement as a detention deputy in Conejos County, Colo. Later, Crowther attended a police academy and began working for the Alamosa Police Department upon graduation.
“Shortly after, I began the process of becoming a Colorado State Trooper, which was my greatest desire,” Crowther said. “The process was long and challenging at times but well worth it.”
With some of the most gorgeous scenery in the state, yet also with some of the harshest weather, Crowther said working in Eagle County has been both a wonderful yet challenging opportunity.
“Although the weather may be quite inconsistent, I’m grateful to be a part of a community that has consistent support for law enforcement,” Crowther said. “Whether it be a sunny July day or a cold January blizzard, I’m proud to be a Colorado State Trooper and serve the community.”
Avon Police Department
Avon police officer Michael Emery was raised in Littleton. The Columbine High School graduate said he was unsure of what he wanted to do for a career growing up.
“I had two near-death experiences before I turned 16,” Emery said. “Which helped me believe I am here for a bigger purpose.”
So, Emery said he wanted to dive into a career in firefighting. Unsure of how to pursue the field, he has “done a little bit of everything over the years.”
At 28, Emery became a resident firefighter in Granby. The now-Avon police officer worked with Grand Fire Protection District No. 1 for four years. There, Emery was voted Firefighter of the Year in 2016.
In 2019 and in search of something new, Emery landed in Avon as a detentions deputy and field training officer.
“After my three-year mark in the jail, I had heard the Avon Police Department was hiring patrol officers and decided to pursue an opportunity to be out on the road with what I had seen and heard was an amazing team of officers and leadership,” Emery said.
After his hire, Emery attended the Summer Academy in Breckenridge with another previous sheriff’s office teammate: Officer DeGhetto.
“The most challenging aspect of being a police officer or even a sheriff’s deputy, I would say, is how people perceive police following recent events,” Emery said. “A lot of people still have respect for the police. However, there are also a lot of people out there who do not have that same respect for the people who have a badge.”
Despite that challenge, Emery said being a police officer is rewarding because he has the opportunity to help show the community that law enforcement professionals are people who care about the community and what is going on in its members’ everyday lives.
As he’s getting started with his patrol career at the Avon Police Department, Emery said the agency has been “incredibly supportive” throughout his training process and time in the academy.
“There is a plethora of great leadership within Avon PD, which starts with the administrative staff, fellow officers, training officers, sergeants, detectives, the deputy chief and the chief himself,” Emery said. “I love being able to work and live in this valley every day and am looking forward to being a valuable piece of this agency and being a strong part of the community as well for a long time to come.”
When Avon Police Officer Cirilo Zarate was 17 years old, he moved to the United States from Mexico. He was introduced to the Eagle Valley through the outdoors industry, but later decided to take up law enforcement.
“My dad was an officer back in Mexico, so I decided to follow in his footsteps,” Zarate said. “I went to the Spring valley academy in Glenwood and it was great.”
Despite having a police officer in his family, Zarate explained that becoming a police officer means you’re tackling a learning curve, finding out something new every day.
While learning something new all the time, Zarate said it’s great to have the support of the department as he’s supporting the community.
“Avon Police Department is the best place to work, nothing to do with the pay as much as the people that lead the organization and my coworkers,” Zarate said. “I like them all.”
Zarate said he’s really friendly and enjoys talking to people, encouraging community members to get to know him.
Officer John DeGhetto is originally from the West Coast but has lived in Eagle County for over 10 years. Prior to working at the Avon Police Department, DeGhetto was working for the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office in the detentions facility.
“When I finally got out of ‘jail,’ I was given the opportunity to join Avon Police Department as a patrol officer,” DeGhetto said.
While he is beginning his career as a patrol officer “later in life,” DeGhetto said the experience has been challenging, rewarding and exciting all in one.
“I am having to keep up with the younger patrol officers and criminals that are half my age,” DeGhetto said. “Yet, I am thrilled that I am achieving this lifelong goal in law enforcement at my age.”
After 16 weeks in the police academy and eight weeks of studying policies, DeGhetto got to go out into the community and start patrolling around Avon.
“In this job, you never know what challenges or experiences you’ll come across,” DeGhetto said. “No matter what happens, I get to go back to the police department and write about it.”
DeGhetto said he is fortunate to live and work in such a beautiful mountain community alongside great colleges and serving an awesome community.
“I may be older than the town of Avon, but I have a ‘young’ officer’s enthusiasm and an ‘old’ man’s wisdom when patrolling the streets of Avon,” DeGhetto said.
DeGhetto said he is excited to get to know the town and its people better as his career progresses.
Former firefighter and deputy coroner, 36-year-old Rio Burgess made his way from Canada to the Eagle River Valley.
“In 2022, I felt that the general opinion of law enforcement was not great in the United States,” Burgess said. “I saw there was an opportunity and felt there was a need for people to step in and serve, to help our communities, the profession and to reduce the generally low application rates, so I applied.”
While eager to serve and protect, Burgess said that becoming a police officer also involves understanding and dealing with some lesser-known challenges and dangers both on and off duty.
However, Burgess said those within the department support one another, so the officers don’t have to meet these challenges alone.
“I work with some of the best people around, who hold themselves and each other to a very high standard,” Burgess said.
With the sense of community and ability to support those around Avon, Burgess encouraged those interested in applying to be an officer to do so.
“There is a ton to learn about how to be a good and effective police officer, but I am so grateful to the Avon Police Department and everyone at the town of Avon for welcoming me to this career,” Burgess said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of people; I owe my thanks to all who recommended I apply to Avon Police Department.”
Burgess said he used to think a career in law enforcement wouldn’t suit him, however, he said he has been surprised by how much he enjoys the job.
24-year-old Joshua Hernandez grew up in the inner city of Chicago and moved to Colorado to carve out a better life for himself and his family.
“I have always seen law enforcement officers as a shining beacon of hope in the community,” Hernandez said. “Officers back home made regular trips into my neighborhood where they would stop to play basketball with the local kids and interact with the community. I strived to be like them.”
Hernandez said there is nothing quite like being a police officer, which can often be the most challenging part of being one.
“You have to be thrown into situations that are rapidly evolving and uncertain and make correct decisions,” Hernandez said.
While navigating those unpredictable and often dangerous environments, Hernandez said that every day he feels the rewarding nature of the position as well.
“(You’re) going home every night and knowing that you made a change in someone’s life for the better, no matter how small of an interaction you had,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez said he looks forward to work every day, largely due to the group of people he works with.
“The other officers and staff at the Avon Police Department are more like a family to me than coworkers,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez encouraged community members to come up and say ‘hi’ to him, as he loves getting to know people living and visiting in the community.
“When I’m not on duty, I compete locally in the mixed martial arts scene,” Hernandez said. “If I’m not busy attending to calls for service, I would love to chat about all things MMA.”