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Aspen Chief of Police Richard Pryor Announces Retirement
Richard Pryor, Chief of Police, City of Aspen, Richard.Pryor@aspen.gov, 970-274-4101Jami McMannes, Communications Manager, City of Aspen Jami.McMannes@aspen.gov, 970-765-4752
Aspen, Colo. – June 2, 2022 – On December 17, 2022, Richard Pryor will celebrate his 15th year as the Chief of Police with the Aspen Police Department. Also in December, Chief Pryor will retire after working with the City of Aspen for nearly 29 years.
“It’s an exciting time for me, for my family, and for the Aspen community,” Chief Pryor said. “I’ve been with the Aspen Police Department since 1994 and in that time, I’ve seen the department and the community grow around the ‘community policing" philosophy.”
Chief Pryor started his career with the Aspen Police Department as a Community Safety Officer. While responding to wildlife calls and traffic incidents, Pryor saw the connections that the police had with the community and aspired to grow in his field. He graduated from the police academy in 1996, then served as a patrol officer, sergeant, and assistant chief before becoming the Chief of Police in 2007. He has worn six different badge numbers and is the longest-serving chief in the history of the Aspen Police Department.
“Richard has been a pillar of our community for many years,” said Sara Ott, Aspen City Manager. “I admire his professionalism, compassion, leadership, and determination to deliver police services in a uniquely Aspen way. Community policing in Aspen is different from nearly every other community – a testament to Richard’s and the department staff’s keen listening and responsiveness to the town’s needs and expectations.”
While serving with the Aspen Police Department, Pryor prioritized building lasting and meaningful relationships with people and organizations throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. In 2017, the Aspen Police Department, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, and Snowmass Village Police Department developed the Pitkin Area Co-Responder Team (PACT) to help decriminalize mental health in the community. Mental health co-responders work with officers and deputies to coordinate access to resources and provide the necessary support to clients when substance abuse and/or mental health challenges exist.
Chief Pryor attributes the success of the police department to the quality of people on the team. “We’ve worked really hard to find the right people for the positions with the department,” said Pryor. “There isn’t a magic recipe. It takes persistence, intention, and focus. Real-life experience really helps when it comes to being a good fit as a police officer in Aspen.”
“Our goal is to provide non-traditional solutions to resolve problems,” continued Chief Pryor. “I am continuously impressed by the empathy, patience, care, and support that emulates from our team. We serve with the mindset that those we respond to are all just people trying to live life, without judgment, and with the intention of resolving a situation with the lightest touch possible. We believe anyone can find strength within to overcome the obstacles in their lives and will support them as best we can.”
After retirement, Chief Pryor and his wife, Pip, plan to join their family in England and get back to their roots. Pryor grew up in the county of Hertfordshire and will be relocating to the countryside. “I’m tempted to do some part-time labor – ditch-digging, hedge cutting, and the sorts,” shared Pryor. “I’m looking forward to living off the grid for a bit.”
Chief Pryor will retire in December 2022. Although Chief Pryor’s retirement becomes official in December, the City’s search for a new Chief of Police is now underway. Under the City’s Charter, the City Manager is responsible for selecting and hiring the Police Chief, with the confirmation of Aspen City Council. The City intends to use the assistance of a professional recruiter to identify and encourage a wide range of applicants. The community will be invited to meet finalists and share impressions of the candidates with the City Manager later this fall.