Glenwood Springs Chief of Police Joseph Deras suits up
Glenwood Springs Chief of Police Joseph Deras has never skied or snowboarded but does have 28 years of law enforcement experience under his belt.
Originally from the Los Angeles County area, Deras spent the last 17 years working his way up the ranks from an entry-level officer to a second-in-command captain at the Gilroy Police Department in California’s Bay Area before coming to Glenwood Springs.
“Policing in California is really at a place right now, which makes it very difficult to enjoy what you’re doing,” Deras said.
The Golden State’s shifting political climate, crime rate and congestion were among the reasons Deras and his wife wanted to relocate their family to western Colorado.
“Everybody has been extraordinarily friendly,” Deras said. “We have this fast pace in California where everybody is in a hurry.”
Deras’ uncle served as the chief of police in Covina, California – roughly 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles – and his father worked in the L.A. County Sheriff’s Office.
Additionally, Deras grew up having to respond to his great grandparents and godparents in Spanish, which led to him becoming bilingual.
“I want people to feel comfortable coming and talking with me,” Deras said. “I found that to be a successful recipe and I want to continue that.”
During his tenure at the Gilroy Police Department, Deras took on a number of roles.
As a K9 handler, defensive tactics instructor, gang and narcotics detective and full-time captain, Deras took on a number of situations, too.
Deras was not on site when a gunman killed three people and injured several others at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 28, 2019.
However, the police captain spent the days following working on the case and ensuring that his colleagues and members of the public who were on site at the time of the shooting received the necessary care and attention.
“There have been many, many law enforcement instances that were tough to work through,” Deras said.
Deras’ first day as Glenwood Springs’ chief of police was last Monday.
Not one for spending too much time behind a desk, Deras often does ride-alongs with officers to better understand their day-to-day concerns and perspectives.
Additionally, Deras in the coming weeks hopes to reach out to civic, faith-based and other local organizations to foster as many community partnerships as possible.
“I am as much their police chief as I am the folks I am working with inside the building,” Deras said.
After 35 years of service, former chief of police Terry Wilson retired last September.
Additionally, Lt. Bill Kimminau served as interim police chief until Deras’ came on.
Following a nationwide search, a community meet and greet and interviews with local officials, city manager Debra Figueroa hired Deras in December.
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Officer Haley Walker sat beside her stepmother in a windowless interrogation room just before starting the overnight shift on Thursday evening.