June 2024


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Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Last Bulls-Eye

This is the final chapter of the Bull’s-eye and I struggled with how to close it out.  Let me start by saying it has been my honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Larimer County for twenty-five years, the past twelve as your sheriff.  As an agency we have faced many challenges.  We faced each of them head on and became a stronger and better department because of them.  We’ve made mistakes but we’ve admitted them and taken steps to ensure we don’t make the same mistakes again.  I’ve made mistakes and have taken that same approach.  We have had many successes and accomplishments; way too many to list here, but I take pride in knowing that the department and our personnel are in a much better position than they were twelve years ago.  “Pride” is a word I use often when describing my feelings about the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office and the loyal and dedicated men and women with whom I served.  My successes haven’t been mine but the result of the hard work of so many others.  I’m merely the head coach.  The real success goes to the players and support personnel.  They have my eternal gratitude.

I don’t intend for this missive to be a eulogy.  Let it be more about credos.

Western movies are full of them.  The first one that comes to mind is the “Code of the West” as sung in the ballad from  Waterhole #3: “Do onto others before them others do it onto you.”  But seriously….

John Wayne’s last role was as John Bernard Books in The Shootist.   His credo was “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people and I expect the same from them.”

Regarding  his personal philosophy, the Duke said,  “I’ve always followed my father’s advice: he told me, first to always keep my word and, second, to never insult anybody unintentionally. If I insult you, you can be goddamn sure I intend to. And, third, he told me not to go around looking for trouble.”  I’ve tried to live up to that and would add, “but if you find trouble, face it head on.”

As he said as Col. Davy Crockett said in The Alamo, “That’s what’s important, to feel useful in this old world, to hit a lick against what’s wrong for what’s right, even though you get walloped. There’s right and there’s wrong. You gotta do one or the other. You do the one, and you’re living. You do the other, and you may be walking around, but you’re as dead as a beaver hat.”

I haven’t consciously thought of these life-lessons through my tenure.  They must be burned into my psyche.  I hope the men and women I leave behind to continue their service to this community remember some of these credos – if not the words, at least the ideology.  They may seem corny or hokey in today’s society, but they are fundamentally sound.  A person can’t go wrong adhering to this sage advice.

When I took office, I published a code for the department that I have oft talked and written about:  Serving with PRIDE with “PRIDE” being the acronym for Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Duty and Empowerment.  Our employees should know this backwards and forwards and our readers have likely seen this before so I won’t expound on it.  I addition to this code, I had my own personal credo.  It is a simple code that is easy to say but hard to follow.  It has guided every decision I have made through the past twelve years:  “Do the right thing for the right reason regardless of the opposition or consequences.”

I hope that I have lived up to that.  I tried to.  I have done  my best and can honestly say that every decision I have made has been in the best interest of the department and the citizens we serve.  I’ve done things that I knew were going to get me in trouble – and they did, especially with the biased local media and the far left.  I got walloped aplenty, but I did them not out of ego or seeking publicity but in defense of the U.S. Constitution, my oath of office, or support of my deputies when they were in the right.  I take my leave secure in the knowledge that I never compromised my principles to incur favor with the voters, the media or special interest groups and that I’ve always kept my word.

Everyone is asking what am I going to do.  The simple answer is that I have no idea.  I have known this day was coming but I have tried to stay focused on my responsibilities to the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office and to citizens of Larimer County to the very end of my term so I haven’t made any plans.  Trooper and I may just ride off into the proverbial sunset.  I’ve been continuously employed in the law enforcement arena for over thirty-eight years but since most of that has been with the county and most of it during a time when the retirement plan was abysmal, retirement isn’t an option.  Retirement suggests one isn’t working but has an income as opposed to being unemployed.  The thought of being unemployed is a little unsettling but I have found comfort in Proverbs 3.  I have faith that things will work out for Deborah and me.  The one thing we know for certain is that we want to stay right here in Larimer County.  It’s home.

I have been truly blessed to have been entrusted as the caretaker for the LCSO and the Scir-Reeve, the guardian of the shire, for the past twelve years.  I came into office expecting to serve eight years but the Lord and the voters granted me an additional four years when they modified term limits.

In addition to John Wayne, I am a great admirer of George Washington.   The last item I removed from the wall in my office was the NRA print titled, “George Washington and the Battle of Trenton.”  Let me end by citing the words of General Washington as he said farewell to his commanders.  “It is with deep appreciation and a grateful heart that I take my leave from you.”

Jim Alderden


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