New Summit County sheriff, undersheriff and commander sworn into office
Jaime FitzSimons’ first week on the job started with a bang. On Thursday morning, just hours before the interim Summit County Sheriff would be publicly sworn in, a bank at Copper Mountain was robbed.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way. It just proves that we haven’t missed a beat,” FitzSimons said. “We just got right to work and nobody blinked.”
That morning, the room was filled wall-to-wall when the former Summit County Sheriff’s Office Commander was publicly sworn in as interim sheriff. Following a 15-year career with the Los Angeles Police Department, FitzSimons took the opportunity for a change of pace with a move to the mountains.
“It was a different lifestyle… Every window and door had a panic alarm on it,” FitzSimons said. “My kids had grown up with code words. What a way to grow up, right?”
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks in New York, FitzSimons made the move with his family.
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“I talk about this change and one of my kids spoke up and said, are you gonna go chasing Osama bin Laden?” he recalled.
After joining the Summit County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy in 2006, FitzSimons was quickly promoted to detective, and then commander. As commander, he has been responsible for the Operations Division, Criminal Investigations, Special Operations and SWAT.
FitzSimons was officially appointed by Summit County Commissioners to take over the position of Sheriff on May 27, left open by former Summit County Sheriff John Minor, who was recently sworn in as the new chief of police for Silverthorne.
“Commander FitzSimons stood out to me for his passion for the community, and I am really impressed by his clear commitment to collaborating with partners inside and outside Summit County,” Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said in a statement. “That commitment to relationship-building in the community was evident through the overwhelming volume of support we heard for Jaime’s candidacy.”
The three commissioners selected FitzSimons over candidates Derek Woodman, former undersheriff, and Mark Hanschmidt, former Silverthorne police chief. Both FitzSimons and Woodman will run as candidates for sheriff in this November’s election, for a two-year term through November 2018.
“Jaime really knocked it out of the park, in my opinion,” Commissioner Dan Gibbs said in a statement. “I’m really impressed by what he brings to the sheriff’s office through his 15 years with LAPD. He’s seen some unbelievably tough situations, and he’s been immersed in one of the largest law enforcement organizations in the country.”
Shortly after the appointment, Woodman was informed he would not be retained as undersheriff, leaving an opening within the department. Fitzsimons appointed former emergency management director Joel Cochran to the position of undersheriff, and former sergeant Wes Mumford as operations division commander.
Prior to his work with emergency management, Cochran started his career in law enforcement with the Manitou Springs Police Department in 1978. He joined the Breckenridge Police Department in 1983, where he served as a detective and acting police chief, as well as with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.
“He comes with a wealth of knowledge,” FitzSimons said. “Plus, he’s been with the county for the last 10 years.”
Mumford joined the sheriff’s office in 2004 as a patrol deputy, before being promoted to detective in 2007 and sergeant in 2010.
“John Minor left a great foundation here for me and I continue to build on that,” FitzSimons said. “I’m thrilled that the commissioners had the confidence in me to step into the job and start driving.”
In his time with the county, FitzSimons has seen crimes of all sorts, including murder cases, several bank robberies and white collar crime.
“Summit County may not have the constant exposure of big cities, but we have a little bit of everything that a big city has,” he said. “Luckily, we have great relationships with our state and federal partners, and are able to work these crimes.”
As the county continues to grow both in visitors and residents, FitzSimons hopes to grow the department as well.
“We are busy year round; the jail is busy year round,” he said. “It’s great that we have a base community now, that we have more long-term residents. I can’t wait to start meeting with people and see what’s on their mind.”
Correction: A previous version of this story said Undersheriff Joel Cochran formerly served as Breckenridge Police Chief. However, he was Acting Chief during that time.
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