New Chief Scott Scurlock was sworn in by Mayor Ryan Banks on Thursday after starting his new job on Monday.
Hayden’s new police chief Scott Scurlock was sworn in on Thursday, putting him in charge of the police force in a town that has been on his mind for years.
Scurlock has spent most of his career in Topeka, Kansas where he worked all over the department. More than a decade ago, his family was out vacationing in Colorado. Like so many others that wind up here, Scurlock said the idea of moving to Colorado started to take hold.
Since Scurlock said he has been very selective in looking for his next position. In 2017 he was a finalist for a commander position in the Steamboat Springs Police Department, which had his family starting to contemplate where they would live should he get the job.
After the sticker shock of housing prices in Steamboat, they turned to Hayden. But Scurlock ultimately didn’t get the job in Steamboat and began waiting for his next opportunity that was a good fit.
“I started looking around at other areas, talking to people and everybody’s like Hayden. You got to look at Hayden,” Scurlock said. “When the posting for Hayden Chief came open, I looked at my wife and said ‘What do you think?’ She said ‘Let’s try,’ and so here we are.”
“I believe in a higher power. I think that we have a path that is set for us and if it is meant to be it will be,” he continued. “It is.”
Scurlock officially started as chief on Monday and has hit the ground running. Sergent Shawn Hockaday, who has been serving as interim chief has helped him adjust to the local systems and Scurlock made his way to Steamboat on Thursday to learn how to book someone in the Routt County Jail. While the policing itself is essentially the same, there are a lot of subtle differences to get used to.
(For example, Scurlock said no matter where you are, you cannot go up and hit someone, but what that is called differs from place to place. In Kansas that is called battery and in Colorado it is called assault.)
“I’m just kind of jumping in, meeting with officers, meeting with town folk and kind of getting the public’s input on what the concerns are in Hayden, what they would like to see out of their police force,” Scurlock said. “Just really trying to get an idea so I can start prioritizing which direction I need to go first.”
In Topeka, Scurlock said he was a Sergent for a department of between 250 and 300 officers. There he worked various roles including traffic enforcement, hit and run investigation, patrol, gang task force, narcotics, criminal investigations and even in the administrative bureau. Ultimately he didn’t want to sit behind a desk though, so Scurlock said he asked to go back out on the street where he was a field training supervisor and instructor for topics like fair and impartial policing and de-escalation tactics.
In one of his first decisions as chief, Scurlock has opted to forgo the unmarked chief vehicle in favor of driving around one of Hayden’s regular patrol cars.
“I think the police chief needs to be in a marked car, I think all of the officers need to be in a marked patrol car so if somebody needs us they can see us and flag us down,” Scurlock told Hayden Town Council on Thursday, noting that someone had flagged them down just hours before. “I believe in wearing the uniform every day, I believe in driving a marked car so that is kind of what you can expect out of me.”
He has already been reviewing all of the department’s internal policies and , while overall they are pretty good, he is making some subtle changes where he feels they could use some work.
“I think it is my job to make sure my officers are protected from liability, I think it is my job to make sure that the town is protected from liability and in turn the citizens are protected from liability because if we do something wrong, ultimately it is taxpayer money that is going to be paying for our mistakes,” Scurlock said. “I’m very big on liability, making sure that our officers are properly trained that our policies are up to date and that we are doing the right thing.”
Scurlock said he wants to hear from Hayden residents as well, inviting them to reach out to him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If I work a 10-hour shift, if I spend all 10 hours out on the street, I’m only going to see certain things, there is another 14 hours of the day that I’m not going to see,” Scurlock said. “Our citizens see everything all the time, and if we don’t know about it there is nothing we can do about it.”
Top photo caption: New Hayden Police Chief Scott Scurlock, who started this week, was sworn in at Thursday's Town Council meeting. (Dylan Anderson/The Yampa Valley Bugle)