ERIE — Two months into his job as Erie’s new police chief, John Hall said his vision for the young department is to provide the same level of service a seasoned department does.
“I have a young department, and that means the potential for error is greater,” Hall said.
Still, he said he views the youthfulness of his department — three and a half years of experience, on average — as a positive because officers are “moldable and not stuck in tradition.”
“My (job) is to coach and train them into the kind of department they want to be,” Hall said of the 13 officers currently on staff. “They have the community’s best interests at heart.”
The department lost four of its 16 officers when former Chief Stephen Hasler left to take over a newly formed police department in Lone Tree, near Highlands Ranch. Because of that, Hall has spent much of his time since he moved to Erie hiring and training new officers.
Already, he has held three SWOT — strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats — meetings to help Erie officers develop a new vision for the department.
The classes, he said, have helped the officers outline the values that will guide them in their day-to-day work.
“We are ready to work toward those goals,” he said. “We have high-quality, enthusiastic officers who want to do a good job.”
The department’s newest addition is Kathy Leonardi, 35, who is the department’s first full-time woman police officer.
While Leonardi is excited to be part of the change — and to be the first full-time woman police officer in town — she said she doesn’t want too much emphasis put on her gender.
“Being a female, I definitely can bring a different perspective to the department, but I don’t want my gender to be too heavy a part in this. I am just excited to be here,” she said.
Leonardi replaces Ted Bathauer, who was the department’s school resource officer in Erie. Bathauer left Erie last year to join the Lone Tree Police Department with Hasler.
Hall said he is excited to have Leonardi as Bathauer’s replacement because she previously worked as a campus supervisor at Heritage Middle School in Longmont.
Additionally, Leonardi was a police officer in Longmont for a year and worked as a code enforcement and animal control officer in Erie five years ago.
“I think she’s going to do a great job,” Hall said, adding that he believes Leonardi can provide a perspective that male officers don’t have.
“You don’t want an orchestra where everybody is a tuba player,” he said.
In fact, Hall said, he’d like to have more women apply to work in Erie.
“I don’t think law enforcement is one of those professions women always aspire to be in,” he said. “And because the application pool is much smaller, there is a lot of competition for departments to get good, dependable females.”
He said it will be another four to six months before the police department is back to full strength with 16 officers.
Amanda Arthur can be reached
at 303-684-5215, or by e-mail