Police

Meet Dan McCasky, Lakewood’s new police chief

30-year veteran takes over department

Posted 1/10/17

Lakewood’s new police chief, Dan McCasky, is just getting started in his new role, but after 30 years with the department, he knows very well how the community works.

Which is good, because there’s change ahead for the department and the …

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Police

Meet Dan McCasky, Lakewood’s new police chief

30-year veteran takes over department

Posted
Lakewood’s new police chief, Dan McCasky, is just getting started in his new role, but after 30 years with the department, he knows very well how the community works.
Which is good, because there’s change ahead for the department and the community it serves.
“Change is always difficult, no matter whom it impacts,” he said. “We will adapt to all these big changes, and do it in a stable way that doesn’t impact our services.”
The previous chief Kevin Paletta announced his retirement at the end of May, after 35 years with the department, including 8 1/2 years as chief. McCasky, 54, had been serving as interim chief since Paletta’s retirement, and after a five month search, he was hired to the role full time.
McCasky, a 30-year veteran of the Lakewood Police department, had most recently served as the division chief of the Patrol Division. He began his career in Lakewood in 1986, and has held line level, supervisory and leadership positions in all of the department’s three divisions.
We spoke to McCasky about his past in law enforcement and what the future holds, and here’s what we had to say:
How did you get into law enforcement?
“My dad was in the Air Force, so we lived all over the country, and even Australia for a couple years. We moved to Denver once in the 1970s, left and then came back to stay.
I graduated from Gateway High School in Aurora, and while in high school and college at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, I did landscaping work. I knew I didn’t want to do that after I graduated, and at college I always enjoyed the criminal justice classes. Then I met a Greeley police officer who told me about the job, and I thought I’d try it.”

How did you come to Lakewood?
“I was first hired on at Douglas County, and really enjoyed the work and liked the job, but I wanted a more urban department, so I came to Lakewood. At the time I didn’t have any experience in Lakewood, but I knew a little about its reputation and thought, ‘what a great department — it would be a honor to be part of that organization.’ I knew if I was going to stay in law enforcement, it was going to be in a place like Lakewood.
I went through the academy and training, and then started in patrol. I started work on my Masters in Criminal Justice, and eventually received it from the University of Colorado at Denver.”

Tell me about your roles within the department?
“Early on I served in the internal affairs department, which I thought was a good way to learn about the organization, and its culture.
I’ve also served in the investigations division, was promoted to sergeant and served in the crimes against children and robbery and homicide divisions. When I was promoted to commander, I had the chance to work in the professional standards division, which gave me experience in hiring, running the academy, internal affairs functions and worked for the chief, who was Ron Burns at the time. If you want to really know how an agency works, that’s the division you want to be in.
When Kevin Paletta was promoted to be chief, I moved up to division chief, and worked with him for eight years.”

What was it like being named chief?
“Being the interim chief is an exciting challenge, but it’s also difficult because you’re in a position where you’re trying to maintain the status quo of organization, but you can’t really put your own stamp on things. I really enjoyed the opportunity, and it solidified my desire to be chief.
City manager Kathy Hodgson came over to my office, and even though I’d felt really confident during the interview, I was pretty nervous when she came over. She was really excited to offer me the job, and I was pretty emotional. When you spend 30 years in an organization, and then have the opportunity to lead, it’s humbling and an honor.”

What goals do you have as chief?
“I want to bring a sense of stability to the organization. We’ve had a lot of turnover in the past year, and have a lot of new people in new positions. I want to let everyone get grounded and find a sense of comfort in their positions.
There’s a lot going on with a regional communication center coming later in the year, a new regional records management system, and we’re outfitting our patrol vehicles with new mobile technology, so we have to prepare for all that.
I would also like to boost our recruiting, hiring, and retention. We have such high standards on hiring, and policing is a very difficult job.”

Police have received a lot of attention is the past couple years — how do you plan to maintain the community’s trust?
“Our profession suffered a difficult and deadly year in 2016. People are rethinking their interest in a policing career. But at Lakewood our philosophy has always been ‘community policing and community partnerships.’ That has always been the mantra of our department, and we’re going to continue to maintain those standards.
We police the community, but we’re also a part of the community. This is our home, too. So we’re going to keep establishing relationships. This idea is so ingrained in our culture that it permeates everything we do.”

What do you want residents to know about what you hope to do as chief?
“We’re going to create a safe living environment for our citizens and visitors, and maintain the quality of life for our residents. We’re a customer service organization, and we’re here to serve our citizens. And we’re going to continue that level of service, even better than it has been before.”

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