Editor’s note: Rifle Police Department’s Chief Debra Funston was recently sworn in as president of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police during their annual conference and banquet in Estes Park. She is the first female to serve as president of the group, which focuses on the “improvement, safety, effectiveness and professionalism of Colorado Law Enforcement.”
Listen to the audio version of this report from KDNK News here.
Q: You’re the new association president for the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police. I’d love to hear a little bit about what, if any, deciding factors you’ve heard from your colleagues as to why you were chosen for this role.
A: Well, I think part of it is just the willingness to serve. It does have some responsibilities with it. I think that what we try to do in our association is to get a wide variety, geographically, of people that serve those roles within the organization, so that we have representation from around the state — because what happens in the Denver metro area isn’t necessarily happening on the Western Slope.
I think to really provide a good balance for the organization, we try to have people from different geographical locations within the state serve. So that did play a big role in my getting nominated.
Q: Speaking of responsibilities, I’d love to hear a little bit more about some additional responsibilities you’re taking on with this role.
A: Well, I think it could be a number of things depending on what occurs within the State of Colorado with respect to public safety.
One of the items that we are actively involved in is the legislative session. We have a group of lobbyists that are looking at bills that are being proposed, and particularly those bills that are pertinent to public safety. Then, as an organization, we try to determine what our stance will be on that.
So, as president, I think I will be heavily involved in some of that, but also kind of providing a face for the Colorado chiefs that are a part of this membership. Another thing that I foresee happening within the organization is that, with COVID and a variety of other things that have happened, everybody’s staffing in many professions is at a very low level. So that requires that chiefs a lot of times don’t have the ability or the time or the resources to be connecting on a statewide level. I’m focusing this year on how to reach out to all of the chiefs in the state and hopefully provide them a continuous flow of information of things that are going on, and to invite them to future conferences. I’m hoping for a fairly smooth year for the State of Colorado.
Q: You are the first woman to be appointed to this seat, how does that feel for you?
A: I’m very proud to be serving in this capacity, not only for my community, but the community of Colorado and all of our citizens.
I’ve been going on 35 years in law enforcement, and so I feel like I’ve worked very hard for it. On the other side of it, with respect to gender, I think it’s an exciting time. Law enforcement for many, many decades has been predominantly a male-dominated field. That is rapidly changing, and I just hope that my position inspires other young people, whether male or female, to want to aspire to getting involved in law enforcement. I hope that, if anything, I can be an inspiration to young people.