Rifle’s new chief, wife charmed by Colorado
Like a lot of people who pass through Colorado, Thomas Klein and his wife quickly realized they needed to live here.
So Klein, wrapping up his time as a district captain with the Raleigh Police Department in North Carolina, will be Rifle’s new police chief, City Manager Matt Sturgeon announced last week. He hopes to start sometime in January.
“My wife and I recently visited New Mexico and while we were out there we went north to Colorado and pretty much 10 minutes after crossing the state line she turned to me and said, ‘We’re going to live here’ and that was it,” Klein said in a telephone interview. “If the wife says move, you move.”
Klein, who has lived in North Carolina for over 30 years, said that he was taken aback by how friendly and personable the people in Colorado are, specifically in Rifle.
Once he began researching the area and saw that the chief position with the Rifle Police Department was open, he knew he had apply.
“Chief Dyer spoke so highly of it — ‘Best place to be a chief of police,’ he’d say, and when he came out to visit, we immediately felt welcomed and I knew I had to pursue the opportunity,” he added.
With more than 24 years of police experience in his home state of North Carolina, Klein is set to succeed Chief John Dyer following his resignation in August to take a position in Lake Stevens, Washington.
After starting as a patrol officer in 1992, Klein spent decades moving up through the Raleigh Police Department holding positions of lieutenant and captain over the past five years. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in 2010 and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in sociology and criminal justice concentration from North Carolina State University.
Coming from the capital of North Carolina, with a population near 450,000, to Rifle may be the biggest adjustment for the longtime Raleigh police officer.
“Rifle is definitely a smaller area than I’m used to, but all cities will always have their small pockets and small communities and Raleigh is no different,” Klein explained. “People often say Raleigh is a big little town. Not to mention, policing is the same no matter where you. Crime may be less, but people who sell meth in Raleigh are no different than the people who sell meth in Rifle. Crime is crime everywhere.”
In a city the size of Raleigh, Klein has developed experience dealing with a range of drugs. He is still a certified lab technician and teaches on controlled substances in the academy so he doesn’t anticipate being unprepared for Rifle’s methamphetamine problem.
“There’s just about every drug here in Raleigh and I’m very familiar with methamphetamine issues,” he said. “The most common lab in Raleigh is a methamphetamine one.”
Moving from the southeast part of the United States to northwestern Colorado may present its fair share of differences, but Klein looks forward to experience the great outdoors as he never could back home.
“There are so many opportunities in Colorado that were not available to me in Raleigh,” he said. “I want to learn how to fly fish and there are just so many things that I want to do. I’m excited about all the opportunities that Colorado presents and I don’t think I will have a lack of things to do in my off time.”
Rifle spent several months looking at applicants for the position in a selection process that included a meeting with members of the Rifle Police Department, a community reception and interviews with the City Council, city manager and executive staff, according to the city manager’s press release.
The six finalists for the position were Klein; Daric Harvey, administrative commander for the Vail Police Department; Thomas Rummel, watch commander with the Pueblo Police Department; Drew Sanders, police lieutenant with the West Jordan Police Department in Utah; Andrew Smith, investigations divisions captain for the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office in Minneapolis; and Sgt. Samuel Stewart, interim police chief for the Rifle Police Department.
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Summer market season begins this week in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, with the return of the Tuesday evening Glenwood Downtown Market and Music Series and the Carbondale Farmers’ Market starting Wednesday.