New Parachute police chief excited for new start
When Parachute Police Chief Cary Parmenter announced his retirement at the end of 2017, the town had a tough task to find someone to fill his shoes after nearly 12 years as the head of the town’s police department. Fortunately, the solution was just one town over.
Former Rifle Interim Police Chief Sam Stewart was officially named the town’s next chief in the final weeks of 2017, and he’s ready to start fresh in 2018 for a town he’s lived in since 2001.
“I’m looking forward to no longer commuting,” he admitted. “I’m already invested in the community and have lived here since 2001.”
Named the interim chief for Rifle in August 2016 while that town replaced its chief, Stewart has served for the Delta County Sheriff’s Office, Delta Police Department and the Rifle Police Department. He graduated from the FBI Command College in 2013.
He said the five months he spent as interim chief for the Rifle Police Department will help him immensely as he begins this new position.
“I’m very fortunate to have that experience,” he said. “I got to learn about the entire department. I stepped back and looked at things I did well and things I could improve.”
While his diverse background includes 23 years of law enforcement experience with 10 years as a member of SWAT, those five months as chief helped him better see how the police department fits into the city as a whole and gave him experience with budget planning.
“Being interim chief gave me more responsibilities and opened up my eyes to the whole city and that will carry over to Parachute,” he explained. “I have a responsibility to the town and the rest of the departments of Parachute.”
He described his time as interim chief as invaluable as it gave him a better sense of how city department budgets interact and showed him the responsibilities of chief.
He also believes his time with the Rifle Police Department and familiarity with the area will allow him to succeed right away.
“I think that will help me immensely,” he said. “I forged close relationships with other officers and neighboring officials. That’s going to be important.”
“Sam will be an excellent addition to the Town of Parachute and we are excited to have him join our team,” Parachute Mayor Roy McClung said in an email to the Post Independent. “Given his experience working with Garfield County and other local agencies, Sam will be a wonderful asset to the town. Sam lives in our community and is fully invested in the board’s vision of making Parachute a better community for residents and visitors alike.”
One way Stewart is looking to know his community better is by starting up a Coffee With a Cop program in Parachute similar to what former Rifle Chief John Dyer and current Chief Tommy Klein have done in Rifle.
“I would love to do Coffee with a Cop,” he said. “It’s a great thing. Definitely something I will look to bring to Parachute.”
He also plans on reaching out to former Parachute Police Chief Cary Parmenter for advice. Parmenter was selected as the town’s police chief in 2006 and was first hired as a full-time officer for the department in April 1993.
Stewart’s first day in his new job will be Monday.
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Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon may be closed intermittently Wednesday through the weekend, as highway crews break down and remove boulders and patch potholes caused by Tuesday’s rock slide.