By Peter Jones
Arapahoe County Undersheriff David Walcher has announced he will seek the Republican nomination for the office’s top position next year.
The 32-year law enforcement veteran has been considered the department’s heir apparent and already has the endorsement of his boss, Sheriff Grayson Robinson, who must step down in January 2015 due to term limits.
“This has been in my sights for quite a period of time when Sheriff Robinson started recruiting me to come out here. It’s always been in the back of my mind. [Robinson] has been a great mentor to me and we’ve worked great together,” Walcher said.
The sheriff’s second in command was first enlisted as Robinson’s division chief in 2009. Before that, he served 21 years in the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office after starting his law enforcement career in the FBI’s Denver bureau.
In 2011, Walcher was appointed Arapahoe County’ undersheriff, a position for which he oversees the day-to-day operations of the 700-employee department, including the 1,200-inmate county jail.
“I have never had a bad job yet. All of them have been great. All of them have had their own challenges,” Walcher said. “At the end of the day, I believe public safety is the most important thing government does. When somebody picks up the phone at 2:30 a.m. and calls 911, we better do well. We have a truly incredible responsibility and accountability, and I like it.”
The candidate says his campaign will focus on three issues: community safety, engagement and trust. He says the latter two are necessary to ensure the first.
“We have to have the community’s help. We need eyes and ears. We need people to be comfortable reporting things to us,” Walcher said. “I don’t think there’s a lot of trust in government right now, but I think people can really have an influence and make a difference at the local level.”
If elected, Walcher would not expect to make major changes in the department, though he notes he has some stylistic differences with his outgoing boss.
“Arapahoe County is a great organization. Nobody can question the professionalism and the integrity,” he said. “But [Robinson] and I are different. I see more minor adjustments to some of the things we do, but nothing major.”
Walcher, 54, a Colorado native, has lived with his wife in Aurora for 20 years.
He says his dreams of a career in law enforcement date back to his early teens.
“In my FBI file, there is a letter I wrote to the FBI when I was 14, saying ‘How do you become an FBI agent?’” Walcher said.
After graduating from Arvada High School, Walcher earned what might be considered an odd choice for an aspiring lawman – a degree in accounting.
He was hired by the FBI as an office employee at age 21.
“I’ve got a mathematical brain and the Bureau loves accountants and attorneys,” the candidate explained. “I never applied for an agent because I didn’t want to leave Denver. Denver is really high in office of preference, and it probably would have taken me 15 to 20 years to get back. It wasn’t worth it to me.”
Instead, Walcher wound up in Jefferson County, where he served in various functions, including a seven-year stint on the SWAT team, before rising to division chief, the third-highest rank in a sheriff’s office.
Walcher, who had toyed with moving to Jefferson County to eventually run for sheriff there, reconsidered his options when Robinson began recruiting him.
When Walcher, who has a master’s degree in Criminal Justice, is not performing his role as undersheriff, he teaches at the University of Colorado at Denver.
“What a great opportunity to create the future leaders,” he said. “It’s really been rewarding.”
So far, Walcher is the only announced candidate of any party in the race for sheriff, though Democrats are almost certain to run a candidate in a county that now has more registered Democrats than Republicans. Independent voters, who boast the majority of registrations, are considered the political wildcard.
Like Robinson, a fellow Republican, Walcher is not entirely comfortable with the partisan path to a functional position that he considers largely apolitical. He is quick to emphasize his nonpartisan credentials as a community leader.
“I want the job. I know there’s a means to get that, and that’s the process we have,” Walcher said. “I don’t think it should be a partisan issue. I think it should be based on ethics, morals, qualifications, experience and leadership. I’m not a politician. I’m a law enforcement professional.”
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