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DiSalvo: A unique legacy comes to an end

Joe DiSalvo
Special to The Aspen Times
Joe DiSalvo
Courtesy photo

I’d like to take this final opportunity to address the community as your sheriff. 

I am fortunate to have been part of an amazing — and sometimes strange — legacy that began with a Gonzo journalist in the early ’70s and lived for over 50 years. I worked with Sheriff Kienast and his successor, Sheriff Braudis, and occasionally even sought advice from Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. They all achieved legendary status in this valley, and each continued to grow and improve the organization and brought prominence to our community on many levels. 

For the first time in nearly 50 years, the new sheriff will not have a direct link to the past from its inception. However, your Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office has a strong history of high-level service to the citizens, and that should not change. The foundation of community policing started right here, in Pitkin County, via my visionary predecessors, and it continues today.



The team the new sheriff is inheriting is unified, and they are dedicated to the exceptional service provided to this community for the past five decades. The legacy that made the office of sheriff unique has come to an end. Sheriff Braudis and I discussed this at length in the year prior to his passing.  I wish the new sheriff the best in creating a new legacy.

The sheriff relies heavily on his entire staff, especially the command staff. It is the command staff who truly is the foundation of my success and the success of this office. The current team we’ve assembled is strong, cohesive, and is dedicated to the traditional high level of service that this community expects. This command staff consists of some of the most talented public-safety professionals in the state. 




I’d like to publicly recognize my staff who have received statewide, national, and even global recognition for their work: In 2017, Undersheriff Alex Burchetta was named “one of the 40 best and brightest law-enforcement professionals in the world under the age of 40” by The International Association of Police Chiefs. 

Operations Commander Parker Lathrop is an expert in department operations and wildland fires. Communications Commander Brett Loeb was manager in 2020 when we were named Colorado Center of the Year, the communications/911 center that exemplified outstanding professionalism, leadership, and innovation to the community it serves, as well as to its region and state. 

Emergency Manager Valerie MacDonald was awarded Emergency Manager of the Year for the 10-county Northwest Region in 2022 and keeps our community prepared for any emergency. 

Administrative Commander Jill Ashey manages the entire office as well as a very busy civil division. She is the glue that holds our organization together.

I’d also like to thank jail commander Kim Vallario, whose last day of service was Thursday, Jan. 5. She managed a jail in need of repairs and who had many solutions for the facility — many of which may come to fruition in the upcoming years.

The remainder of the staff are dedicated, well-trained, and selfless in their duties. This team will continue the tradition of high-quality service, and I assure you that the transition by the current team to the new sheriff will not affect service to the public.

I have lived in Pitkin County for 42 years and have served as a peace officer for 37 of those years. I would have liked to have continued as your sheriff, as I feel there is still work to be done and exciting new ideas to implement. However, that work is now in the hands of the new sheriff. I look forward to seeing how these issues play out over the next four years.

Lastly, I owe almost everything I am to my mentors, my fellow deputies (past and present), my family, and my friends — especially Sheriff Braudis, who influenced my career and me more than any other person in my life.

I’ve had incredible experiences and have met and learned from incredible people. When I started my “job” in 1985, I had no idea it would turn into a life-changing career. I am proud of my work and accomplishments over the past 12 years. Mostly, I’m grateful to this community for giving me the life and opportunities I never imagined. 

Contrary to campaign misinformation, Marcy and I will continue to live in Aspen. We have an abundance of good friends and family here who cannot be replaced. Aspen is our home, and Marcy still loves going to her salon every day. I look forward to my next chapter, and I plan to keep working, while pursuing some exciting prospects. I also plan to continue my annual golf fundraiser in June and will continue to support local non-profits. This is a special community, and supporting our non-profits is one small way that I can give back for having been given so much. It truly has been my honor serving this community, and it was an unforgettable run. 

With all my respect and gratitude,

Sheriff Joe DiSalvo

Joe DiSalvo’s 12-year run as sheriff ends Tuesday, Jan. 10, when Michael Buglione, who prevailed in the November election, is sworn in.