OURAY – The City of Ouray has hired Sergeant Justin Perry of the Montrose Police Department as its new Chief of Police. Perry was selected among the four finalists to lead the police department.
Perry is currently a Patrol Sergeant with the Montrose Police Department, where he also served as a detective for seven years. His development of community outreach programs including education, community involvement, and prevention with the Montrose Police Department were key attributes for his selection, said Ouray City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli.
Perry, 37, has a powerful physique, an outgoing nature and ready smile. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice.
During his tenure as a detective at the MPD, he worked mainly in felonious crimes such as homicides and sex assaults. Because of his Spanish speaking abilities, a large portion of his caseload involved bilingual cases.
“I really enjoyed investigations,” he said. “I had a great love for it.” His decision to transition to Patrol Sergeant in 2009 was a difficult one, but necessary for his career development, he said.
Throughout his career with the MPD, Perry has always been very involved in the community policing side of law enforcement. “It is statistically the most effective method of police enforcement,” he said, equating it to preventive medicine. “Why not prevent the crimes before they occur?”
One of the assets Perry brings with him to Ouray is an already well-established relationship with Gene Lillard, a commander with the MPD who has been serving as interim Police Chief in Ouray for the past three months. This relationship should help to ease the transition as he moves into his new role, he said.
Indeed, the two were already working together earlier this week, discussing some of the weaker areas of the department that may need strengthening in light of the recent upheaval in the OPD which has been short-staffed since May, when former Police Chief Leo Rasmusson and two officers abruptly resigned from their positions, leaving the department with just one officer.
“My biggest objective is to ensure that the citizens know that we are here for them,” Perry said. “To build those relationships of trust that allow us to form partnerships, to solve the community-related problems we have here; because that’s what it’s about. I’m hoping that with my community precinct philosophy and positive nature, and my desire to be with people and share information about the police department and what’s going on, will help bridge that gap that is there right now.”
He also looks forward to addressing urgent training needs and basic organizational structure within the OPD.
Perry worked closely with the district attorney’s office during his tenure with the Montrose Police Department, particularly during the years he worked as a detective. One of his highest-profile cases was a homicide in front of a bar in Montrose, involving three subjects who fled to Mexico.
“I have been very involved with the DA’s office working on that prosecution, along with the attorney general’s office,” he said. “My entire career, I have been closely involved with them, trying to build those relationships, because it’s the DA’s office whom we have to have a greater partnership in within this criminal justice system because we work together to achieve our goals.”
Perry, his wife Susie and three-year-old son Syrus currently reside in Montrose, where they own a home. But Perry said, he looks forward to moving to Ouray in the very near future. He will start working full-time with the OPD in early October.
“Our transition will be very quick,” he said. “A Chief of Police needs to be part of the community he serves. He needs to be involved with that community, needs to know the culture and climate of that community. How could he, if he lives outside of town?”
Perry said he welcomes the lifestyle change and workplace challenges that await him here.
“I don’t know if it’s anyone’s dream job to be a Chief of Police, but it’s something innate,” he said. “This is a very special and sacred place for so many people. It needs to stay that way. And without the proper law enforcement, that potentially could be lost. I have always been one for career development and bettering myself. What a great opportunity to start a new life.”
Perry will essentially be starting from scratch at the OPD. One lone officer, Justin Crandall, remains from the previous regime, and brand new officer James Berry was hired earlier this month. One remaining officer vacancy still remains unfilled after the upheaval in May.
“It’s really going to be built from the bottom up,” he acknowledged. “The nice thing about that is, we can create a highly professional and modern police department. One that is based upon integrity and ethics. And we will be able to provide our citizens with exactly what they need, hopefully to build their confidence in the department.”
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