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Rifle police chief candidates introduce themselves to residents

City to make offer to single candidate Monday

As former Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein steps into his new role as city manager, the search for Rifle’s next chief of police has narrowed down to three candidates.

On Friday, those candidates — Debra Funston, Adam Cataffo and Michael Drake — introduced themselves to Rifle residents during a candidate forum at the Ute Theater and Events Center.

Debra Funston

Rifle Police chief candidate Debra Funston introduces herself to residents during a candidate forum Friday at the Ute Theater and Events Center. Funston currently serves as the police chief in Palisade. Ike Fredregill
Post Independent

Currently in her sixth year serving as the Palisade police chief, Funston has 33 years of law enforcement experience.



“Building our community’s trust in law enforcement always comes down to providing impeccable police service with integrity, character and transparency for the people we serve,” Funston told attendees.

Born and raised in Montrose, Funston began her law enforcement career in Hampton, Virginia, as a patrol officer, before returning to Montrose and serving on the local police department for 11 years.



“I love the Western Slope,” Funston said, explaining she also served on the Steamboat Springs Police Department.

During her career, she held a number of titles and positions, including school resource officer, field training officer, detective division supervisor and public information officer.

A graduate of the FBI Rocky Mountain Command College, Funston has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration and a master’s degree in public administration.

“I am blessed with many opportunities to serve,” Funston said, adding she is active on many boards and commissions. “I would like to serve and become a part of Rifle.”

Adam Cataffo

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Adam Cataffo started his law enforcement career in Rifle, before moving to Douglas County to work with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, where he worked for 20 years. Ike Fredregill
Post Independent

After 24 years of law enforcement, Cataffo retired from Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, but he said he is ready to return to law enforcement.

“A lot of you may be asking why I would come out of retirement now,” he said. “And the answer is I owe a great debt to this city. One I will probably never be able to repay.”

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Cataffo’s first law enforcement job was in Rifle.

“This is the place that gave me my start, and I had a lot of firsts here,” Cataffo said, “my first arrest, my first time being shot at was here, I met my wife here and my daughter was born here.”

While serving with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, he worked in the investigations: major case unit, served as a coordinator for the judicial district’s critical response team and served as the team commander for the SWAT hostage negotiation team.

Having completed the Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command class, Cataffo also earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in criminal justice and public administration.

“I don’t think there is any greater calling than public service,” he said. “I can promise I will always be there for you.”

Michael Drake

Currently serving as Major in the New York State Police Department’s Professional Standards Division, Michael Drake and his wife have been eyeing a move to Colorado’s Western Slope for years, he told Rifle residents Friday during a Rifle Police chief candidate forum. Ike Fredregill
Post Independent

Currently serving in the New York State Police Professional Standards Division, Drake has 25 years of law enforcement experience.

“When I was about 5 years old, my grandma asked what I wanted to be when I grew up,” Drake said, chuckling. “I told her I either wanted to be the Pope or a police officer. By 7 years old, being the Pope was out.”

While working his way through college, the New York State-native picked up a job as a dispatcher for the local emergency services and knew that’s where he belonged.

After years of climbing the ranks of the New York State Police and long commutes to work, Drake said he and his wife are ready for something different. After researching various areas around the nation, they settled on Colorado’s Western Slope.

“This is the region we can see ourselves,” he said.

Drake has served as a troop commander, captain of the bureau of investigations, interim police chief and captain for uniformed force as well as several years as a firefighter/emergency medical technician. He graduated from the FBI National Academy and has earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and master’s degree of public administration.

“I don’t need this job — I want this job,” Drake said. “You have a great pool of candidates here. You do not lose no matter who you pick here.”

Klein encouraged residents to provide feedback via comment cards and said Rifle plans to make one of the candidates an offer Monday.

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at ifredregill@postindependent.com.


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