Soon, its just Dave

Amanda Holt MillerWestern Garfield County Staff
Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson

PARACHUTE David Higuera is about to redefine himself when he retires in April.For almost 20 years the people in Parachute have hardly known his first name most just call him Chief. Higuera has been at the helm of the Parachute police department since it wasnt so much a department as a two-man law-enforcement team.I had one officer working with me, Higuera said. It was pretty quiet around here. But it was hard to take time off. One of us was on call all the time.Higuera remembers poor equipment, long hours and a quiet little town during his early years as chief. At one point he drove a 1987 Ford Grenada that definitely wasnt a standard police cruiser.It was just a regular car with a ski rack on top, and they tacked a couple lights on it, Higuera said. When we first moved out here they were begging people to move into the houses in Battlement Mesa.Things have changed a lot since then.Now, Higuera leads six officers and thinks of himself more as an administrator than anything else. The old houses on Battlement Mesa filled up, and people built new ones.As the population grew, we added to the force slightly, Higuera said. Its been a casual change. It wasnt just one big growth spurt, so I havent had any trouble with it.As Higueras schedule has become more predictable, he has been able to coach football at Grand Valley High School and baseball at St John Middle School. Higuera has three kids of his own. They all grew up in Parachute. None is involved with law enforcement. In fact, no one in Higueras family worked in police departments until recently, when his brothers-in-law started working for the Garfield County Sheriffs Department.Higuera didnt grow up planning to become a police officer. It just happened, he said. He grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles. He moved to the Colorado River valley when he married his wife, who is from Silt. He did maintenance work for the City of Rifle and had a second job at the Kum & Go.The officers would come in there all the time. They asked if I wanted to be in their reserves, Higuera said.He didnt realize at the time that he was launching a career in law enforcement. He later went to the police academy in Delta and hired on as a full-time officer in Rifle. He worked for Parachute until the town had to cut back. Then he spent 11 months working for the Garfield County sheriff before he filled the open chief position in Parachute.This has been a great job, Higuera said. But its time to go. Its good to know that. Now I need to get my regional identity back. I wont be the chief anymore. I just want to be Dave.

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