Silverthorne Police Chief John Minor announces he is retiring after more than 30 years in law enforcement
Minor spent his entire law enforcement career in Summit County, including serving as Summit County Sheriff for 12 years before taking the helm of the Silverthorne Police Department.
When Silverthorne Police Chief John Minor first began his law enforcement career more than 30 years ago in Summit County, many of the roads in Breckenridge were still dirt.
Over the years Minor — who started his career with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office in 1990 and went on to win multiple elections for Sheriff — has investigated double homicides, helped coordinate law enforcement when Hell’s Angels passed through the county, responded to major events like avalanches, a helicopter crash, an armored bulldozer rampage and much more.
Now, after 33 years of service at law enforcement agencies in Summit County, Minor has announced he will be retiring effective June 2.
“There were some just crazy events and things you get exposed to and that you respond to that you could truly just write a book about it,” Minor said. “… I’ve had a front row seat to the greatest show on earth every single day.”
Having grown up outside Liverpool, England, Minor moved with his family to Colorado in 1980, when he was about 14. He said, at that point in his life, he never imagined he would become a police officer.
Minor attended technical college and went on to work at auto body shops for several years. He experienced “boom-bust cycles” in those jobs, he said, and started attending college classes at night. Eventually, he settled on a more steady line of work.
“My grandfather was a police officer for over 30 years, and I don’t think anyone ever threatened to lay him off,” Minor said. “So, I said, ‘Why not?’”
In 1990, he took a job with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office working at the jail. A little more than three years later, Minor went on to become an officer in Silverthorne, where he rose through the ranks, according to a news release from the town, becoming a sergeant, then a senior sergeant and finally serving briefly as interim police chief in 1999.
After being appointed by the Summit Board of County Commissioners to serve as Sheriff in 2004, voters elected Minor to the position four times — a partial term in 2004, then three four-year terms in 2006, 2010 and 2014. After 12 years as Sheriff, he stepped down from the position in 2016 to return to Silverthorne to serve as police chief.
“I’ve only worked at two (law enforcement) agencies,” Minor said. “And I’ve had the privilege to lead them both.”
During his first stint at the Silverthorne Police Department, Minor helped launch the Adopt an Angel program, a charity drive that collects toys and gifts for local children during the holiday season.
Over the years, this program grew so large it had to be taken over by a nonprofit, according to Silverthorne Town Manager Ryan Hyland, and it now serves more than a thousand families each year.
“He has had a lot of impact in Silverthorne,” Hyland said, “and not just as chief.”
Since taking the helm of the department in 2006, Minor has employed a community-oriented approach to policing, Hyland said, and pushed for the department to receive accreditation from the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police and the County Sheriff’s of Colorado.
In 2021, the Silverthorne Police Department received that accreditation, becoming one of only 38 departments statewide found to have met the 214 qualifying standards.
Hyland said Minor’s leadership of the department could be summed up by a saying he heard Minor say more than anything else: “Treating others the way you want to be treated and then translating that into policing a community the way you’d want to be policed.”
As Sheriff, Minor recalled that he worked to move the detox from the jail, where it had originally been located; revamped policies, practices and hiring standards; started medical clinician visits to the jail and instituted anger management training and group therapy there — all while working with a “shoestring budget.”
Current Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons worked under Minor for 12 years at the Sheriff’s Office before taking over for him in 2016 when Minor became the Silverthorne Police Chief. Over those years, FitzSimons said, Minor was something of a mentor, who taught him the importance of the Sheriff’s Office.
“One of the things I always admired about John Minor was his love for the community and the people who worked for him,” FitzSimons said. “Those were some very important takeaways for me when I became sheriff, what I learned about the office of the Sheriff and what it means to serve your community.”
Noting that Minor has spent his entire law enforcement career in Summit County, FitzSimons added, “He will be missed. Certainly, his personality will be missed.”
Hyland said the town of Silverthorne will conduct a search to fill the chief of police position upon Minor’s retirement. He said the search will consider both internal candidates and external candidates for the position.
As for what Minor plans to do after retiring, he said he plans to take the entire summer off.
“Summit County is a beautiful place,” Minor said. “So having a whole summer where I’m doing nothing sounds just absolutely thrilling to me. I’m going to ride my bicycle, go fly fishing.”
After a summer of rest, Minor said he expects he will go “a little stir crazy” so he plans to find another job “that has absolutely nothing to do with law enforcement.”
But, Minor said he has all summer to figure out what exactly that job will be. After more than three decades in law enforcement, his main goal in retirement is simply to relax, he said, adding, “The first thing I’m going to try is: Is Scotch a breakfast drink or not?”
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