Craig officially opens position for police chief

The Moffat County Public Safety Center includes the offices of the Craig Police Department.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

The city of Craig is hiring for a very public position — chief of the Craig Police Department.

Mike Cochran has served as interim chief since March, sworn in following the departure of former chief Jerry DeLong in February. City manager Peter Brixius said he anticipates Cochran will be a candidate for the permanent position.

“We’re very pleased with the work Mike Cochran has done as interim chief in his short tenure with the department,” Brixius said by phone Tuesday. “He’ll likely be a candidate for that position — at least, we’d hope that’d be the case.”

The job was posted Monday on numerous job boards, including, Brixius said, wide-reaching state and national platforms advertising to potentially interested law enforcement officers.

“We’ll run (the ad for) about three weeks,” Brixius said. “And we’ll see what response we get. We will have a pretty diverse interview team, including agencies, local participants as well as Council in the process. Then the selection process, it’s got a few twists and turns — it’s a very visible position, obviously, and there needs to be some public input into the process.”

Brixius said it was important to the city to have a permanent occupant of this critical position, notwithstanding the good work Cochran has done as interim in his eyes.

Cochran has taken over a diminishing police force in recent years, having inherited a situation made rocky in part by state legislation — particularly 2020’s sweeping police reform bill, SB 217 — and in part by cultural shifts in the opinion of policing.

Brixius said whoever takes the permanent position, whether it be Cochran or someone else, must be selected with a sensitivity to that reality.

“In this day and age, it’s really important that community policing include a major factor of how they conduct themselves and the department,” Brixius said. “In a small community like ours, it’s important the police department engages with the citizens, and they have maybe more personal relationships with the community than you might see in a large metro area.

“The knowledge of policing, reputation, skills and training, those are all major factors of course in the selection process. And we’ll be looking for a committee that comprises senior law enforcement officials.”

Brixius said interviews and next steps could begin as soon as the end of the month, but it depended on applications received in that time period.

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