Steamboat’s Sam Silva takes on new role
Sergeant hopes to use lessons learned from predecessor
February 18, 2011
Steamboat Springs — Sam Silva stepped into his new role as a sergeant at the Steamboat Springs Police Department with modesty this week.
On Monday, Silva's bosses announced the promotion. On Tuesday, his call sign changed to Sam 6-3 — "Sam" is the dispatch term used to identify a sergeant — and Silva began supervising the patrol officers he had worked alongside just a day before.
"You still have to prove you're worthy," said Silva, a Steamboat Springs native. "They're not going to respect you just because someone gave you stripes."
Silva is filling a vacancy in the three-person sergeants office left when Sgt. Dale Coyner, also a Steamboat native, died Dec. 4 from esophageal cancer.
"I'm filling his position, but I'm not replacing him," Silva said. "Sgt. Coyner was an icon."
Coyner was Silva's field training officer when Silva joined the department five years ago.
"All my first calls were with him, so I absolutely looked up to him," said Silva, 35. "If I can do my best at following his path, I'll be happy."
To help him do that, Silva has advice from Coyner posted behind his desk.
"Realize how blessed you are to work with good people and live in a place like this," Coyner believed.
After graduating from Steamboat Springs High School, Silva attended the University of Wyoming at Laramie, where he competed in rodeo and studied cultural business.
"I didn't at the time plan on going into law enforcement," Silva said. "That came later."
After college, he returned to Steamboat and worked at his family's restaurant, Old West Steak House. He had enough of the restaurant business and almost moved to work in border patrol, but Silva met his future wife, Stephani, instead. They decided to stay in Steamboat. Silva worked at the Routt County Jail for two years before switching to the police department.
"The thing I probably like the most about it is it's always different," said Silva, an avid runner who loves to travel.
Silva said he enjoys helping people in his hometown, a place where he knows many of the faces. That familiarity has its advantages and disadvantages.
"I've arrested people that I've baby-sat and who have baby-sat me," Silva said.
Eight Steamboat Springs Police Department officers applied for the sergeant position. The application process included a written sergeant's exam, a review of work history and an interview with community members. Silva had to prepare a paper detailing how he would advise City Council members, from a law enforcement perspective, on the potential opening of more medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.
"I think everyone did well and he really stood out," Sgt. Rich Brown said. "I know he's a hard worker, and he really communicates well with people, and in our business, that's very important."
Capt. Joel Rae said he is excited for Silva and looks forward to him being a leader in the department.
"His strengths are he has a lot of energy, he's a go-getter," Rae said.
With Silva's promotion, there now are two vacant patrol positions the department has made progress in filling, Rae said. A female officer from Michigan will start April 1 and another candidate is being considered.
— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or e-mail mstensland@SteamboatToday.com
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