Slain officer to be in book | SteamboatToday.com
Alexis DeLaCruz

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Slain officer to be in book

The only Steamboat Springs police officer killed in the line of duty soon will be honored in a new book commemorating Colorado law enforcement agents killed on the job.

James Albert Chew had been a police officer for two years when he was killed July 28, 1972, after stopping a man in a stolen vehicle in downtown Steamboat.

Since 1876, 206 police officers, sheriff’s deputies, FBI and Secret Service agents have been killed in Colorado.

The Metropolitan Law Enforcement Association erec–ted a wall in 1979 at Camp George West in Golden as a memorial for all the agents killed. Camp George West is where Colorado State Patrol holds its basic training programs for the troopers.

Now the MLEA, along with Dick Lundquist, a former Denver officer and president of Denver Bookbinding Company, has decided to put all the names from the wall into a more detailed book.

J.D. Hays, Steamboat Springs public safety director, recently was contacted by Lundquist to gather information about Chew to be a part of the book.

“I think it’s a really unique idea. It’s the first time I’ve heard of something like this in my 30 years in the business,” he said.

Hays looked in Steam–boat Pilot & Today issues from 1972 to find an article about Chew and information about his memorial service. Hays also took a photo of Chew’s gravestone, which is in the Steamboat Springs Cemetery.

Hays thinks the main reasons that officers are killed in small towns is complacency and a lack of training.

“Their complacency might play into it, and that ends up costing you,” he said.

Chew joined the police department in 1970 and was shot while stopping a vehicle that was reported stolen. The vehicle was driven by Harold Vernon Bingham, an escapee from the Washington state prison system. Bingham later was arraigned on first-degree murder charges in Routt County.

Bingham reportedly had escaped from prison and ended up in Steamboat Springs after a car chase in which police lost him on Rabbit Ears Pass. A few days later, a pistol and rifle were reported stolen in Steamboat Springs, leading police to suspect that Bingham made it back into the city limits and took the weapons. The day after the guns were reported stolen, Chew was killed, possibly by one of those stolen guns.

Chew was following up on a stolen vehicle report near Fourth and Oak streets when he confronted the driver. The details surrounding the shooting are unclear, but Chew reportedly was shot in the back by Bingham and later died of the injuries he sustained.

Lundquist, who is spearheading the project, said he always thought it would be neat to get more information about the men and women killed in Colorado. His current project combines his two loves: cops and books.

Lundquist worked for the Denver Police Department for 30 years, all while being involved in his family’s book-binding business. Lundquist, along with a group of law students from Johnson and Wales University in Denver, is researching the officers featured in the book to compile photos, biographical information and details surrounding their deaths.

Lundquist started the project in May and hopes to be done with the book within a year.

“It’s really hard to get the information and photos from years and years ago,” he said.

Lundquist is doing the bookbinding through his company and is collecting money to get the book published and possibly get the books into a larger market.

— To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com