New police Chief Joel Rae takes reins in Steamboat |

New police Chief Joel Rae takes reins in Steamboat

Steamboat Springs’ new Police Chief Joel Rae is a Colorado native who served in the U.S. Marines for four years before entering law enforcement in 1992.

Steamboat Springs' new Police Chief Joel Rae is a Colorado native who served in the U.S. Marines for four years before entering law enforcement in 1992.
Matt Stensland

— Steamboat Springs Police Department Detective Nick Bosick said his new boss has the strongest backbone of any man he's known.

Joel Rae would take a bullet for any of his officers, and he always is willing to lead the way into potentially dangerous situations, Bosick said.

"I've never seen that man afraid to do anything," he said.

Rae's fearlessness stretches beyond the everyday duties of a police officer.

Three years after Bosick joined the Steamboat police department in 1999, his first son was born, and Rae, who was a sergeant at the time, came to the hospital to offer his congratulations.

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"He walked in and held my kid like he was his own," Bosick said.

It is that compassion and heart that Bosick thinks will make Rae a successful leader.

"He cares about each and every individual that works for him," Bosick said. "I about fell off my chair when the city manager made the announcement that Joel was officially the new chief. I'm excited for him. I think he's going to do a good job."

Rae took over earlier this month for JD Hays, who retired after a 32-year career with the department. Hays wanted Rae to replace him.

"Joel was my guy for quite a while," Hays said during his retirement party.

Rae was raised on the Front Range in Greeley and graduated high school in Wyoming before joining the U.S. Marines.

"I had that desire to go and do something important," Rae said. "I'm glad I did."

He spent four years with the Marines and was a scout sniper who served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

"I would have stayed in the Marine Corps, but I don't think my wife could handle it anymore," said Rae, who married Amy a year after being deployed to the Middle East.

He became a cop in Louisville in 1992 after leaving the Marines.

"Public service at that level is just something that gets in your blood," Rae said. "Law enforcement seemed like the most logical choice."

Like his predecessor Hays, Rae and his wife moved to Steamboat because they wanted a good place to raise their family. They couple had been here before. After getting married, the couple hurriedly had to move to California, but they made time on the way for an eight-hour honeymoon at the Holiday Inn of Steamboat Springs.

The Raes have raised two children here. Megan is a freshman, and Austin is a junior at Steamboat Springs High School.

Rae started as a Steamboat patrol officer in 1996 and became sergeant in 1997. He was promoted to captain in 2004 and has overseen the department's patrol division under the supervision of Hays.

"Working under his leadership for the past 16 years has been a great mentoring opportunity and a great learning opportunity for me," Rae said.

Soon after Rae became chief, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Ron Lindroth left for a job in Montana. Rae became the acting director of public safety and oversees the police and fire departments.

He said he feels fortunate to be working and living in "one of the most beautiful places in the world" with residents who have a lot of pride for their community.

"Being in this job for the right reasons is really important for policing in a town like Steamboat," Rae said.

He said he is looking forward to hiring a new captain to oversee the patrol division. Three candidates will be interviewed Wednesday for the job, and an announcement is expected the following week. The applicants are Sgt. Rich Brown, Detective Jerry Stabile and Detective Dave Kleiber.

Rae does not anticipate any other major announcements or changes in the near future, but some think changes are inevitable.

"Not that there needs to be changes, but there are some things that can be changed to make us more of a proactive police department," Bosick said. "I think Joel sees those things."

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email

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