Retired Hayden police officer honored for 16K hours of volunteer service, dedication to community
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Thursday, marked National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, so it was fitting that the Hayden Town Council honored the recent retirement of a police officer who became a beloved member of the community during his 25 years of service.
Russ Davis, who started as a volunteer reserve officer in 1995, eventually rising to the ranks of sergeant, served his last day Dec. 27. On Thursday, Jan. 9, he received two plaques, one of which was a wooden replica of a Hayden police badge, to commemorate his longtime commitment to public safety.
For Mayor Tim Redmond, who gave a speech in honor of Davis, the ceremony was bittersweet. His eyes glistened with tears and his voice broke as he recounted Davis’ generosity to the town of Hayden, which includes about 16,000 hours volunteering with the Police Department.
The mayor noted Davis’ commitment to keeping the community safe, even among his other duties, which included running the local NAPA Auto Parts.
“Many times Russ would drop what he was doing at the NAPA store to rush out and cover the officer on shift with a suspicious call or a violent situation,” Redmond said.
Davis sometimes went to extreme measures to ensure he could respond to emergency calls and support his fellow officers in the line of duty.
“I’ve seen when he had to take Sudafed just to be able to make it out on patrol when he was sick,” Redmond said. “He did it because he loved this job, and he loves this town. That’s going to be impossible to replace.”
Police Chief Greg Tuliszewski also spoke of the retired officer’s accolades. As he recounted, Davis was among a small handful of people to graduate from a police academy cohort that trained in Hayden back in 1995. It has since become too resource-intensive to train officers in the area, Tuliszewski said.
Until 2000, Davis worked as a volunteer officer, after which he rose to a part-time, then a full-time officer until his final promotion as a sergeant. In that time, he completed approximately 5,200 crime reports, according to Redmond. Davis also fielded more than 300 calls involving animals, to which his fellow officers present at the ceremony laughed at the frustrating task of wrangling loose cats or barking dogs.
“All who know Russ know his love for animal calls,” Redmond said, laughing.
Whether dealing with animals or humans, it was important for Davis to always enforce the law with respect, something that even those who came under his custody came to appreciate.
“I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve arrested who still wave at me when I see them on the streets,” he said.
Davis said he has formed tight bonds with his fellow officers, and he is going to miss his work at the Police Department.
But at 71, Davis said he was getting too weary for law enforcement duties, particularly the growing stacks of paperwork. Never one to sit idle, he already has received his broker’s license and has started working with his daughter, Sandra King, at her real estate firm in Craig.
“I’m always doing something,” Davis said. “It helps keep you young, they say.”
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