BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — A department that’s been in the national headlines is now under new leadership.
Former Deputy Chief Stephen Redfearn will now serve as the new interim police chief for the city of Boulder effective Monday.
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“I feel like just yesterday I was a young patrol officer, and I pinned the chief badge on today,” Redfearn said. “It’s surreal and it’s humbling.”
Redfearn will take over from former Police Chief Maris Herold, who took a job with the U.S. Department of Justice Law Enforcement Knowledge Lab.
“I identify as an openly gay man, which in policing was not that well received not that long ago, and so it gives me a different lens to view things with,” Redfearn said. “That is a passion of mine as well, to ensure that people here in Boulder, as long as you do your job and you’re performing well, it doesn’t matter what your background is.”
Former Boulder Deputy Police Chief Stephen Redfearn will now serve as the new interim police chief effective Jan. 22, 2024.
Redfearn started with the Boulder Police Department in 2021. His law enforcement career started as a cadet for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, where he later worked as a 911 dispatcher. The Colorado native then served for the Aurora Police Department for 22 years in a number of different roles, most recently as a commander.
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He received criticism for his involvement in the Elijah McClain case and is now receiving pressure from the NAACP Boulder County to resign. Redfearn told FOX31 his departure from the police department in Aurora had nothing to do with McClain.
“That night on scene, the officers and sergeants said, ‘Here’s what happened prior to my arrival.’ I had no reason to question that. I had never had any reason to question those officers’ judgment on prior occasions, and so you’re only limited to what you know at that time, and it wouldn’t have been my place at that time to go do my own investigation. Detectives came out for that. That all happened,” Redfearn said. “It’s been good for me to reflect on to just remind myself that just because we’ve always done it that way or because it’s standard practice, is that what the community expects of us? So with respect to that … that’s been a learning lesson to me to think about it from that lens,” Redfearn said.
With nearly 25 years of policing experience, Redfearn has played a crucial role in developing Boulder’s Reimagine Policing Plan, which passed in September 2023 centered around problem-solving, community-focused policing.
“One huge priority is hiring and retention. Keeping the amazing officers and employees we have, but continuing to hire a diverse workforce so we can continue implementing all the awesome things we’re doing here,” Redfearn said. “And really hitting heavy on community engagement. We have to be in the community. We have to hear what the community wants and expects of us, so in 2024 you’re going to see a lot more of us out in the community with different engagement strategies.”
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As interim chief, Redfearn told FOX31 he hopes it will become his permanent role, a decision to be made by the city manager down the line.
“I never thought when I started this profession I’d be sitting here wearing a chief’s badge and siting in this office. It’s surreal, but I am just so thankful for the opportunity to run this incredible police agency, to work with the incredible men and women here and to be entrusted with this opportunity,” Redfearn said. “I take it very seriously, and I hope that the community continues to partner with us. It’s an honor and I’m excited to see what we can do.”
Redfearn also serves as the president of the Colorado Fallen Hero Foundation, a nonprofit that helps support the family of a fallen police officer and the agency.
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