Rifle officer selected as Carbondale police chief | PostIndependent.com

Rifle officer selected as Carbondale police chief

Rifle Police Department Sgt. Kirk Wilson sits with Carbondale Trustee Lani Kitching during an open house for police chief candidates March 12, 2020.
Thomas Phippen / Post Independent

Carbondale Town Manager Jay Harrington has appointed Rifle Police Sgt. Kirk Wilson to be the new chief of police.

“I am excited about Kirk’s acceptance of my offer — we had four very strong candidates and Kirk excelled during the process,” Harrington said in a statement.

“The future of the Carbondale Police Department is bright with strong leadership, talented officers and staff,” Harrington said.

Wilson, who has been with the Rifle Police Department since 2002, said he wants to keep communication open between law enforcement and the community, just as outgoing Chief Gene Schilling has done.

“I want to continue that theme where people in the community feel comfortable either coming in, or calling me directly, just as they have with Chief Schilling, to voice concerns, complaints, and to share praise. I look forward to being a part of that,” Wilson said.

When Wilson and the other candidates began applying for the open position, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the social distancing measures in response, had not reached the Roaring Fork Valley.

Since then, community policing has changed in many ways.

“A lot of the aspects of community policing are being placed on hold. Holding community events, speaking in front of groups of people personally, when you’re interacting and educating people, has changed,” Wilson said.

Even during social distancing, there are times when police will have to interact with people in their homes, but law enforcement has generally tried to communicate with people by phone or outside their homes, Wilson said.

The Carbondale board of trustees will hold a vote to formally approve Wilson as chief April 28.

If approved, he will begin work June 1, and have three months to learn the job from Schilling, a veteran of the Carbondale Police Department.

Wilson will also overlap with second-in-command Chris Wurtsmith, who will retire from the Carbondale Police Department in mid-summer.

At a meet-and-greet with Carbondale community members in March, Wilson said it was Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein who suggested he apply for the open position in Carbondale.

“I’m very excited, and I look forward to relocating, moving a little closer to the community, and becoming part of Carbondale as I have been with Rifle,” Wilson said.


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