Mike McKibbin

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September 5, 2012
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Learning the ropes as Rifle's top cop

It's been nothing but smooth sailing in his first week on the job as Rifle police chief for John Dyer.

"Great" is the word he used very often in describing his acclimation to the job and city.

"It's met or exceeded every expectation I had," Dyer, 54, said in his office at the Rifle public safety building on Friday. A few boxes still awaited unpacking against a wall.

"The folks at City Hall have been very helpful," Dyer continued. "There seems to be a lot of good teamwork."

Dyer has 28 years of police experience, most recently as a patrol commander for the Oak Harbor, Wash., Police Department. He was chosen from among seven finalists out of 78 applicants for the job.

Dyer's salary is $89,000 a year, less than Meisner's current salary.

Dyer had kind words for the man he replaced, longtime chief Daryl Meisner, who is helping Dyer get used to procedures and responsibilities before he retires after 39 years with the department. Meisner had been chief for more than two decades.

"I can't say enough about Daryl," Dyer said. "To have such a smooth transition after such a long time is really great. He's been really gracious, and there has been no discomfort or hiccups or anything."

Dyer said it's also good to have Meisner's help as the city budget process begins.

"Great" is also how Dyer describes the people he's met so far in Rifle.

On Wednesday night, Dyer was officially sworn into office at the City Council meeting, followed by a ceremonial changing-of-command ceremony before city police, Dyer's family and others.

Dyer plans to make the rounds of service clubs, school principals and other community leaders after he gets more settled.

"And moving to a new town, there's hundreds of things to take care of personally," Dyer added.

Temporarily, Dyer is living in a Rifle motel, and hopes to soon find a home to rent for the rest of the year. His wife, Peggy, will remain in Oak Harbor for the rest of the year, so she can finish her duties with a nonprofit organization. Then the couple hopes to purchase a home in Rifle.

Until he was formally sworn in as chief, Dyer held off on officially addressing his staff and officers. But he had communicated by email and had informal conversations with most of them before arriving in town.

"I've already been doing ride-alongs with some of our officers and I eventually want to do that with all our officers," Dyer said. "One thing I've been impressed with is the longevity of the officers with the department. That shows me there's stability and a positive image of the department by the officers."

Some of the Rifle officers took lateral jobs with the department from other agencies, another positive, Dyer said.

The department seems to have "excellent" relationships with other area law enforcement agencies, Dyer added.

"You've got the [Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team] and the [All-Hazards Response Team] that has officers from most of the agencies in the county," he noted. "And there's a lot of joint training and cooperation by officers of each agency on the street. That's another positive thing."

Dyer's impressed with what he's seen of the city, too.

"I walked the Rifle Creek trail and there's a lot more there than you can see from the road," he said. "And the views here are so phenomenal. In Washington, everything's green, which is great. But here you just see so much farther."

Dyer said once he was settled in, he planned to visit as many businesses and community organizations as possible, to listen to concerns and comments.

"Right now, I'm still seeing how the systems work in the department and between departments in the city," Dyer said.

"I just feel so fortunate to come into a situation where everything is working so well," Dyer continued. "That's really a tribute to Daryl and the staff he's assembled. Those are big footsteps to fill, but I'm looking forward to it."

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The Post Independent Updated Sep 11, 2012 06:30PM Published Sep 5, 2012 05:36PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.