Oakes nominated for Hero Award

ALAMOSA — Alamosa city councilors this week unanimously nominated Alamosa Police Chief Duane Oakes for the Colorado Municipal League’s Municipal Hero Award.

“He has done so much for our community,” said Councilor Liz Thomas Hensley when she suggested his name for the nomination Wednesday night. He has improved the police department through measures such as paperless tickets and improved the police department’s image in the community, Hensley said.

She also pointed to the recent grant funding received for a new diversion program, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), which Oakes was instrumental in acquiring for Alamosa. Hensley had heard about the program, which reduces repeat offenses by dealing with offenders’ root problems, but the city would not have received grant funding to implement it had it not been for Chief Oakes’ involvement, Hensley said.

“It wouldn’t have gone anywhere,” she said.

(The council on Wednesday approved an intergovernmental agreement that will get the LEAD program going in Alamosa.)

Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman agreed that Oakes’ efforts in bringing in the LEAD program and building up the morale of the police department were important. He also pointed to his work with other law enforcement agencies around the state. Oakes is currently the president of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police.

Coleman said Oakes is also a member of the Alamosa Literacy Council and has taken time to go into classrooms and read to children.

“I have seen this man go into an elementary school and keep 5-year-olds as calm as I don’t know what,” Coleman said. He said as he reads to them, they look up to him as a hero.

Oakes, 48, has served as Alamosa’s police chief since April 2014. He served as interim chief after Craig Dodd left the position and then was hired as permanent chief. Oakes had been operations commander in the department and previously support services commander before stepping into the chief’s position.

He also directed the Trinidad State Junior College Law Enforcement Academy in Alamosa and continued to serve in that capacity after becoming chief.

Originally from the Washington D.C. area, Oakes served four years in the military, which brought him to Colorado. Deciding to stay here, he attended the Trinidad State Junior College Law Enforcement Academy, and initially worked for the Monte Vista Police Department before joining the Alamosa department. Among his many accomplishments is completion of the intensive and elite FBI National Executive Institute in Quantico, Virginia, a program only 1 percent of law enforcement complete. He and Alamosa County Sheriff Robert Jackson have completed that program.

Alamosa City Manager Heather Brooks reminded the council that this is the third year the city has nominated someone for the CML Hero Award, a recent award program instituted by the statewide municipal organization to recognize people who go above and beyond in service to their communities.

The City of Alamosa nominated Matt Abbey in 2016 for his work with Boy Scouts and the creation of the local rocket club, and in 2017, the city nominated the Honeycutts for their coordination of the Alamosa Round-Up and the Alamosa Christmas Parade of Lights. 

City councilors submitted several names for consideration as Alamosa’s nominee for the CML Hero Award. In addition to Oakes, councilors recommended Ruthie Brown, who spearheads many community service projects and charitable fundraisers; Mick Daniel, who came back to the community to coordinate SLV GO (San Luis Valley Great Outdoors) promoting outdoor recreation; Julie Mordecai who has worked to improve the community through such efforts as the Rio Grande Farm Park; Rob Pickett, who worked with the city to bring the ice rink/multipurpose pavilion to reality and has assisted youth in the community through the youth hockey program; and Luke Yoder, director of the Center for Restorative Programs who will be implementing the LEAD program.

Mayor Coleman said he viewed these individuals as Alamosa’s “dream team” with Chief Oakes as the point guard.