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Dillon chooses new police chief

NICOLE FORMOSAsummit daily news

DILLON – The town of Dillon has selected a new police chief nearly six months after former Chief Gary Cline died unexpectedly from health problems.Town manager Jack Benson announced Friday that 47-year-old, part-time Frisco resident John Mackey will take over the small department’s top spot.”We’re just real pleased we’ve found somebody who’s a good fit for the town and it looks like he’ll come in and do good things here,” Benson said.Mackey retired from the Lakewood Police Department in 2001 after 20 years of service and has been the chief at Red Rocks Community College ever since.Benson said a combination of Mackey’s qualifications, personality and Summit County knowledge sealed the deal.”The council really liked him,” Benson said. “He has a local presence and when it came to someone who could actually make a move here and make it work, (the council) leaned toward him.” Mackey has had a home in Frisco for about a year and has been a part-time ski instructor in the area for 14 years.Mackey said one of his first goals in his new position will be to obtain state accreditation for the Dillon Police Department through the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police. To succeed in that endeavor, Mackey will review the department’s current standards, then a state assessor will make a site visit to determine whether the department should be awarded accreditation.He named community policing as a long-term priority.”Dillon has a very strong background of community activity with all its activities associated with the lake, marina and the amphitheater,” Mackey said. “Our police department will be more visible with those activities that are successful and vibrant in Dillon.”Mackey said his new job won’t come without its challenges.”Like any new person, I need to take time to assess what is working and is not working in Dillon. So far, I’ve been surprised to find a pleasant group of officers.”The town began its search for a new leader after former Chief Cline passed away in July.Dillon Police sergeant Bo Schlunsen served as the interim chief.The town council narrowed the applicant pool to four in October, but, incidentally, Mackey was not in that group.”We did an initial review of four candidates and the one we thought was interested wasn’t, so we went back out and picked four more (candidates) and (Mackey) was the one,” Benson said.Town and police department staff met the final candidates during a one-day assessment, then made recommendations to the town council, which made the final decision. Mackey and Benson haven’t hammered out all the monetary details yet, but Benson expects Mackey’s salary to be in the $70,000 range.Mackey grew up in Boston and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts. In 1981, he took a position with the Lakewood Police Department, where he moved through the ranks and spent 10 years as a supervisor in the patrol and investigative departments.After his retirement, he moved on to be the Chief of Red Rocks Community College, which serves as one of the state’s largest training facilities for new officers.He is an adjunct faculty member and field instructor of criminal justice and law enforcement practices at the police academy.Mackey is married with four children, two of which are in high school and two are in college.He said the entire family is thrilled about the upcoming move to the mountains.”It’s been a longtime goal of mine to ultimately move to Summit County and work in one of the law enforcement departments,” Mackey said. “I was fortunate enough to do it a little ahead of schedule.”Mackey is expected to begin in Dillon on Feb. 1, after completing background and post-certification requirements.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 229 or at nformosa@summitdaily.com


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