City names new police chief
Steamboat Springs — Interim City Manager Gary Suiter has hired a new police chief who will be tasked with rebuilding public trust in the Steamboat Springs Police Department in the wake of an internal investigation that led to the departures of the department’s leaders.
New Police Chief Cory Christensen has more than 26 years of law enforcement experience, and he impressed a citizens committee that helped pick the city’s next top cop.
He will move to Steamboat from Fort Collins, where he currently serves as the assistant police chief.
“This is the right person at the right time for this community,” Suiter said Monday as he discussed how he chose Christensen from the list of five finalists.
Christensen advanced and became one of the two top choices for the job after Suiter got feedback from a citizens committee that interviewed all of the finalists.
Suiter said Christensen will be the best fit.
Citizens committee member Charlie MacArthur said Christensen stood out, and McArthur said he was excited to see what the new police chief will bring to Steamboat.
“He seemed to have a pulse on our issues as much as anyone could,” MacArthur said. “He seems to have as much of an idea of where to go from here as anyone, and he provided us with a lot of details about how he would move us forward. That’s really what impressed us.”
Christensen was asked about his views on policing philosophy and community involvement, among other things.
He and the other finalists for the job also were asked by a citizens committee to define transparency and how it should be applied at the police department.
Christensen said law enforcement says “I can’t tell you” too much, and he saves that phrase for when it is really important.
To make the final decision on the police chief, Suiter used a checklist that evaluated the candidates on several criteria ranging from their experience with community policing to their sense of humor.
Christensen completed a three-year special assignment with the community policing project in downtown Fort Collins.
Prior to becoming assistant police chief, he served as a patrol deputy, internal affairs sergeant, major crimes unit sergeant, K-9 unit commander, SWAT commander, watch commander, investigations lieutenant and deputy chief for information services.
He has a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of Denver and a bachelor’s degree in informational technology and a master’s degree in leadership and organizational studies from Colorado State University system. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy, Quantico, Virginia.
When he met the community at a forum earlier this month, Christensen said he has been to Steamboat numerous times to fish in the Yampa River.
He will make about $145,200 as the city’s police chief.
Suiter praised the work of Interim Police Chief Jerry DeLong, who was also named as a finalist for the permanent police chief job.
“I think Jerry has done a great job, and he has already started making positive changes and changing the culture,” Suiter said.
Christensen starts on Nov. 16.
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