Oak Creek swears in new police chief, looks to fill out full-time patrol | SteamboatToday.com

Oak Creek swears in new police chief, looks to fill out full-time patrol

Ben Ingersoll

Oak Creek Mayor Nikki Knoebel swears in new police chief Ralph Maher prior to Thursday night's Oak Creek Town Board meeting. Maher brings more than two decades of law enforcement experience, mostly on the Front Range.

— Oak Creek Town Administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen has seen the ins and outs of the town’s police department with few officers and even fewer people outside of her own office helping keep the operation floating along.

Progress is on the way, though, with the swearing in of Oak Creek’s new Police Chief Ralph Maher, a brand-new resident to town who brings more than two decades of law enforcement experience to the department.

After searching for a little more than a month, Maher was sworn in by Oak Creek Mayor Nikki Knoebel at Thursday night’s Town Board meeting, and he will begin as chief effective immediately.

"Of course I’m just excited to start tomorrow," Maher said during a community meet-and-greet session before the meeting. "But in the long run, I’m excited for the partnerships with the community."

Maher spent 19 years with the Fountain Police Department just south of Colorado Springs. The new Oak Creek chief also spent more than four years with the Department of Corrections in Limon and served almost a year as Fountain’s police chief.

"I am so excited to have somebody who can actually administer a police department the way it needs to be administered, instead of me, someone who has no background in law enforcement," Page-Allen said.

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With town general fund revenues on the rise, Oak Creek has secured funding for Maher to be a full-time chief and for two full-time officers to work under him. Currently, Stephen Harbison serves as a full-time permanent police officer in town, and Jarrod Poley serves as a part-time temporary officer.

Page-Allen said it would be up to Maher to fill out his full-time patrol squad as he chooses. Page-Allen also said in the very near future the town hopes to bring in an additional full-time officer to make it a four-officer unit. Maher, Harbison and Page-Allen already spent 2 1/2 days last week at Lone Tree’s marijuana information seminar.

"We need four to realistically have 24-hour coverage," she said.

Maher said he may have to revive his long-forgotten skiing career now that he will be living full time in close proximity to a major ski area.

He also said he enjoys volunteering in community events and will make it an important part of his job to reach out to the South Routt youths and school district.

"The relationship a cop can build with the kids in the schools is so important," Maher said. "Just having that interaction as a positive role model, there are still a lot of single-family-homes kids here and a lot of kids are without male role models. If they can build that faith and confidence in me and I can give them whatever wisdom in advance, that would be great."

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll