Silverthorne gets new police chief |

Silverthorne gets new police chief

Nicole Formosa
Summit correspondent

SILVERTHORNE ” Joe Russell will be sworn in this morning as Silverthorne’s new police chief, and although he hasn’t unpacked boxes yet in his new office, he said he’s excited and prepared to take over the town’s top police spot.

“The feel of the community is really very nice,” Russell said Friday morning. “The diversity of the community ” you have people from all walks of life, people from all parts of the world.”

Russell, 46, comes to Summit County from the Vail Police Department, where he worked for 23 years, most recently as a commander.

One of his first priorities in Silverthorne will be to get acquainted with the 20 people in the department.

“They really are a great organization,” Russell said. “They have a lot of really great things going on. Also, I’m very people-oriented ” I want to get to know them and I want them to know me.”

Another goal of Russell’s is to improve the level of understanding between the community and law enforcement officers by looking into starting a citizens’ police academy.

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Russell was involved in forming Vail’s citizens’ police academy, which educates the public by allowing participants to drive police cars, practice with police guns at the firing range, go on ride-alongs and investigate a mock crime from an initial response through the arrest process.

He stressed that any future program developed in Summit County may be completely different from Vail’s because right now he doesn’t know what would or wouldn’t work here.

Prior management had already laid out plans for a citizens’ academy in the Silverthorne Police Department’s 2005-06 budget process.

Russell was integral in forming a countywide underage drinking-prevention program in Eagle County. He eventually sees himself carrying similar efforts forward in Summit County, once he gets to know the community a little better.

“I would very much like to try to get involved in any way I can with underage drinking, depression, suicide ” some of the social issues out there,” he said. “At this point, I don’t know everything that’s going on with the [Summit] Prevention Alliance and with the other police chiefs enough to know what I can do to help.”

For now, Russell will continue living in Eagle and commuting to Silverthorne, although he will move to Silverthorne as soon as he settles into his new job and can spend more time finding a home.

When Russell isn’t working, he enjoys driving his fully restored 1940 Ford antique car, riding his motorcycle and spending time with his family.

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