Rifle police chief stepping down
Rifle Police Chief John Dyer will serve his last day as the city’s top cop Aug. 26, almost exactly four years to the date since taking the position.
Citing a desire to be closer to his five daughters and a growing number of grandchildren, Dyer informed his officers and City Council Wednesday that he is moving to Washington state at the end of the month.
“It’s purely family and personal reasons, because professionally I couldn’t have it better than I do here,” Dyer said in an interview.
Dyer has an offer, pending a background check, to serve as police chief with the Lake Stevens Police Department in Lake Stevens, Washington. The location is between Seattle, where Dyer’s two daughters live, and Bellingham, where his wife Peggy’s daughters live.
The decision to leave was not an easy one.
“You know when I first got here people kind of said, ‘You’re moving into a small town, and it’s going to take you 40 years to fit in and whatever,’” Dyer said. “And there has not been one day or person who has made me feel unwelcome. I felt welcomed from the first day I got here, and since then I’ve felt supported all the time from City Hall, to the community, to the officers. … So professionally it’s easy for me to say this has been the best professional experience of my life and that’s the tough part.”
Breaking the news to City Council on Wednesday drew some sadness and understanding.
“Family is important, so I think we understand that,” Councilor Barb Clifton said during a work session.
Dyer was hired in 2012 when longtime police chief Daryl Meisner retired.
Mayor Randy Winkler recalls an exhaustive search process that narrowed a pool of roughly 75 candidates to seven qualified individuals.
“It was really interesting because out of the seven … we all agreed on the top three really quick and it wasn’t much more discussion to get to John,” Winkler said. “We all agreed this guy (is) it. We’ve got to get this guy. And it had to do with who he is. He’s very up-front.”
Council gave its blessing Wednesday allowing City Manager Matt Sturgeon to retain Fred Rainguet, a private consultant, to lead the search process. Rainguet oversaw the search process that resulted in Dyer’s hiring.
Sturgeon said the city hopes to extend an offer to a new chief later this year, with a likely official start date around the first of the year. The chief’s starting salary is in the lower $90,000 range.
Prior to coming to Rifle, Dyer worked for 28 years in Oak Harbor, Washington. A native of Boston, the Marine Corps brought Dyer to Oak Harbor. During his 28 years with the police force there, he rose up the ranks to patrol commander.
After arriving in Rifle, Dyer implemented changes to the staffing and focus of the department — changes that were in response to a growing and changing community.
As Dyer had said throughout his time as chief, law enforcement should reflect the values of the community it polices.
In 2014, the chief helped lead the creation of the Rifle Public Safety Citizen Advisory Board, a group of residents who seek to enhance police-community relations, among other things.
Personally, he serves on the board of the Rifle Community Foundation and Rifle Rotary Club, as well as on the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team and the Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority.
Volunteering for those positions was both professionally beneficial and personally enjoyable, said Dyer.
Looking at the future of law enforcement in Rifle, Dyer said drug abuse poses one of the greatest challenges for the police and the community at large, as it does in many other communities around the country.
Unlike in some of those other communities, though, Dyer said the Rifle community is overwhelmingly supportive of the Police Department.
“It’s a place that any police chief is going to be damn lucky to come to.”
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