Hail to the police chief | SteamboatToday.com

Hail to the police chief

Oak Creek welcomes law enforcement veteran as new police department leader

Susan Cunningham

When Oak Creek’s new police chief, Guytano Farnan, was asked how school children should address him, he chose “Guy.”

“The uniform is enough of a barrier,” Farnan said. “I want to be approachable.”

Farnan, 48, began his new job as chief of the Oak Creek Police Department on Dec. 10. He is friendly and cracks jokes often, but can shift quickly to his serious, get-down-to-business side.

His goals for Oak Creek include improving the police department’s reputation with the residents, making sure officers are updated on their training and following regulations to the letter.

“Bottom line, I just want us to be a professional, courteous law enforcement agency, one that the town trusts and can count on,” Farnan said.

Another priority is that the department be able to stand alone without relying on the Routt County Sheriff’s Office or the Colorado State Patrol, while creating an open-door policy in which all agencies can offer help to the others when needed.

Farnan’s resume is lengthy.

His story begins in New York City, where he was born and raised. A self-proclaimed jock, he focused his energy on football and basketball, playing both sports through college and spending one year on a semi-professional team.

“Originally, the only thing I ever wanted to be was a pro athlete,” Farnan said. “And I got hurt.”

Injuries propelled him into his second-choice career, law enforcement, which Farnan said was a natural for his personality.

“I have a strong sense of right and wrong. I genuinely like to help people,” Farnan said.

He likes that no two days are the same and that he has to think quickly on his feet and has to be a good problem-solver.

“I think that everybody has a place, that one fit, something that they’re meant do, something that they’re intended to do,” he said. “And I just think this is where I fit.”

He has taken every bit of training available to him, he said, including canine, S.W.A.T. team and detective training. He has finished first in his class in four different academies.

“I take training and school very seriously,” he said.

He was part of the U.S. Marine Corps from 1975 to 1978, and a member of the Virginia Army National Guard from 1996 to 1997.

He retired from the Norfolk Police Department — a force of 720 police officers serving a city of 300,000 — in 1998, then spent three years as an insurance investigator while getting an associates degree in criminal justice.

“My whole goal was to be as well-rounded a law enforcement officer as I could,” Farnan said.

That, he said, would prepare him for the job of a police chief.

“The moves I made I tried to calculate to better prepare me to handle this job and to be good at it,” Farnan said.

He chose Colorado because of its stunning scenery, and he chose Oak Creek because he wanted a small, friendly town.

“I just wanted a place to settle down and call home, and thought a smaller town would offer that,” he said. “I don’t like city life, and the people (in Oak Creek) have done nothing but make me feel welcome.”

Being chief in a small town means he does not have to sit behind a desk all week, but can work on the streets as well.

It also means more time to do proactive work — such as checking in on elderly residents, driving by homes while people are on vacation, and giving courtesy rides when its 2 a.m. and bitter cold outside.

“They’re visible deterrents — they send a message to the small element that does cause crime that we’re alert,” Farnan said. “It also goes a long way to building trust in the community.”

Farnan has traded in his sports car for a pickup truck and is hoping to find a little land and house to settle on. He has a daughter who lives in Virginia with his ex-wife and who plans to visit in the summers.

He still runs every day. And he’s hoping to get involved with helping to coach Soroco High School’s football and basketball teams.

And although small towns may not usually be the scenes of major crimes, Farnan knows that it’s the police department’s job to always be prepared.

“Even though this is a quiet town, anything could happen anywhere,” Farnan said.

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