Hayden While patrolling the streets of Hayden on Friday, recently sworn in Police Chief Greg Tuliszewski said moving to the town has felt like coming home.
"My goal has been to come back to a small community and make a difference," Tuliszewski said.
Tuliszewski was raised in small towns; there were nine people in his graduating class at Colorado Christian Academy.
In order to return to small-town life and lead a police department, Tuliszewski knew he needed some big-city experience. He got that on the Front Range in Lone Tree, where he got to help build a police department from scratch after the city had decided to stop contracting with Douglas County for police services.
"We had 90 days to start a police department, and we walked into an empty room," Tuliszewski said. "We built up a 23-man force in 90 days."
Tuliszewski also wanted to learn the administrative side of police work, such as managing budgets, schedules and gaining accreditation.
"All that experience is what I was able to bring here," Tuliszewski said.
In addition, Tuliszewski brought his German shepherd named Kiucus to Hayden, who rides obediently in a cage in the back of Tuliszewski's patrol car. Tuliszewski is a dog lover and is raising Kiucus to be a service dog that could help comfort people at hospitals or nursing homes.
Aside from raising dogs, Tuliszewski has a fiance who is making plans to move to Hayden. He also is an avid motorcyclist who has toured all of the lower 48 states, parts of southern Canada and Mexico. He has usually owned Honda Goldwing touring bikes, and he likes to go somewhere different each year.
"It's great because you get to go off the back paths," Tuliszewski said. "You get to know people that way."
Getting to know everything about Hayden and its people has been his priority since being sworn in Nov. 7. He has been trying to identify the police department's strengths and weaknesses. He said the town has a very dedicated staff and very supportive Town Council.
Tuliszewski said he wants to address what he said was a perception in town that members of the police department were not approachable.
New uniforms will arrive in January along with a newly designed, more visible patch. Tuliszewski said the uniforms were donated from other police agencies, and it will be an easy way to let the public know that it is a different police department.
Tuliszewski said a challenge facing the department is maintaining a high level of service with only four officers. To provide 24/7 coverage, the department would need six officers, Tuliszewski said.
"We need to try to supplement what we are missing," Tuliszewski said.
He said a goal of his is to build relationships with other agencies. This is especially important in small communities where it may be impractical for a department to have its own tactical or investigations team.
"You have to be able to rely on each other," Tuliszewski said.
Tuliszewski noted that there are 16 police officers he knows of who work for other agencies who live in Hayden.
Tuliszewski has plans to hold an academy for citizens and to train reserve officers who could be useful for things such as special events. Gaining accreditation for the department from the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police is important to Tuliszewski, as well. He hopes to accomplish that in the next 18 months.
Nearing two months into the job, Tuliszewski said the reception so far from the town has been overwhelming.
"I think it's a great fit for me," Tuliszewski said. "The people are great, it's small enough where you get to know people and large enough where there are things happening."
Mayor Jim Haskins said town leaders and staff members have enjoyed working with Tuliszewski.
"Everything we've seen so far has made us happy," Haskins said.
Haskins said Tuliszewski was outgoing, and he has done a great job of meeting people in town.
"It's very easy for him to meet people and introduce himself," Haskins said.
Many people in town are not used to that and are pleasantly surprised, he said.
"I've had people come up to me and say, 'This guy's great,'" he said.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland
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