Oak Creek A big chocolate cake and a bouquet of colorful flowers sat on the desk waiting while Linda Koile was sworn in as Oak Creek's police chief Friday.
About 15 people gathered at Oak Creek Town Hall to congratulate and tease Koile as she recited her oath and displayed her badge. "Everybody I love is right here," she said. "This is something else."
Some of Koile's supporters brought her cards and gifts, including a pen Oak Creek resident Dave Moran gave her to write speeding tickets.
"This is great, Dave," Koile said. "I know how my team is, and they steal my pens."
Koile got emotional as she thanked the group who came to support her. She thanked everyone who helped her achieve her goals, including fellow police officer and mentor Richard Wood and Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman.
Koile had been on a six-month probation period as the head of the Oak Creek Police Department. Once she successfully completed that, she was given the position.
Fellow police officer Chris Tritz said Koile is deserving of the honor because she is so dedicated to her work.
"She has been doing this all along," he said. "Now she just gets the title."
Tritz said he is glad he gets to work with Koile and code enforcement officer Judy Meyer because the team gets along so well.
"We can joke around with each other and laugh, and then when it's time to get down to business, we can," he said.
Koile said Tritz has been waiting to receive her old badge because it is shinier than his.
Wood said he has been able to watch Koile grow and develop during his time working with her, and he is confident she will be a great police chief.
"She's a very willing, eager and energetic student," he said.
Rodeman said although the town has had a shaky history with officers, Koile has managed to create a healthy law enforcement environment in Oak Creek.
"Arrests are up, tickets are up, but police complaints aren't," Rodeman said. "She has impressed me totally and completely."
Rodeman said she thinks Koile is a good fit with the community and that people in the community are supportive of what she does.
"I really believe she cares about everyone in this community even if some of them do make her life harder," she said.
Koile said she cares about everyone in the community, and that is why she thinks things have improved so much in the past year as she has been working with new officers.
"I love this town. They are my friends, my family, my coworkers and my acquaintances. The beautiful thing about Oak Creek is that everyone waves at everyone," she said.
Koile thinks one of the keys to her success is being approachable. She said her personality makes it easy for people to see her as someone they can talk to.
"I'm going to be doing this for years because it takes years to become a great officer," she said.
Koile came to Colorado from Omaha, Neb., where she worked as a psychiatric technician. Once she moved here, she worked as a housekeeping supervisor in Steamboat Springs and was a coalminer for 10 years.
Once she decided coalmining wasn't for her anymore, Koile decided to apply for a code enforcement job with the Oak Creek Police Department even though she had no idea what code enforcement was.
From there, Koile has put herself through the police academy and ongoing training that she thinks will continue to strengthen her understanding of the law and being a police chief.
She credits the Routt County Sheriff's Office and the Hayden Police Department for supporting her along the way.
"I put my nose to the grindstone, and I really worked hard," she said.
-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail email@example.com