New Eagle police chief settling in
When Rick Sliger and his wife, Lorraine, were vacationing in Colorado earlier this year, he didn’t expect he’d have a job in the Rockies by the fall.
Sliger was sworn in as Eagle’s new police chief on Sept. 2. He applied for the job in June after finding the position on the internet. At the time, Sliger was second in command in the Butler County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, a post he had held for about five years. With the incumbent sheriff nowhere near retirement, Sliger decided if he was going to run a department, he’d have to do it somewhere else.
The fact Sliger drove out in his patrol car for his interview drew some attention from town officials. Missouri officers buy their own cars and get reimbursed for mileage. Sliger himself also drew their attention. His name was soon put into a group of four finalists for the job.
Sliger, meanwhile, took notice of Eagle.
“The town really seemed to fit me. I was looking for a couple of things. First, I wanted to live in a small community, and second, I wanted a community that was friendly and progressive,” he said. “Eagle fit those requirements to a T… I got the sense this was where I was supposed to be.”
The town’s interview committee got a good feeling about Sliger, too.
“He was real easy to talk to, and understood small town communities. We were comfortable with him, and you could tell he was comfortable with us, too,” said committee member Paul Witt.
Sliger’s first visit to Eagle came soon after he and his wife had taken a vacation in the Colorado mountains. Despite having finished building a home in Missouri just a few months before, the Sligers decided it was time for a change.
“We talked about it a lot,” said Sliger. “We decided we’d rather not wait until we retired to live in a place like this.”
Besides landing a job in a good place to live, Sliger said he believes he’s landed in a good professional situation, too.
Sliger’s first impression is a good one. He credited Sgt. Gary Ward for keeping the department together during these past months.
“It’s not going to be as difficult coming in with him here,” said the new chief. The rest of the staff drew similar praise.
Good people, Sliger said, are the first element of his recipe for a good police department. The second element is good training, which is something that’s going to become a top priority of his administration, Sliger said.
“It’s a very professional department now,” he said, adding that the department can achieve a higher level of professionalism through better training.
“There are always new ideas. There’s always room for improvement,” he said.
Sliger won’t be just an administrator. In a town the size of Eagle, the chief spends time on the streets, too. After nearly a decade of experience in law enforcement, Sliger said the thing that helps him on calls is a sense of perspective.
“You have to separate the act from the people doing it,” he said, noting that many times, good people end up with the police at their homes.
In his off-duty hours, Sliger said he enjoys fishing, hiking and the outdoors.
And, he said, “I may just have to look into trying to ski.”
This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise