Commander Saddles Up for Next Ride in Life

 

A cowboy from Arizona came to the Arvada Police Department in 1971. During the course of his 35-year career, he’s not only experienced many of the changes within the department, but has had a direct hand in shaping the police department into the premier law enforcement agency it is today.

Commander Jeff Waller is set to retire from the Arvada Police Department on July 6, 2006. Although he plans to pursue his passion for ranching and all-things-horses full time, it’s his passion for public safety that has led to an exceptional career.

“I worked many years on the graveyard shift throughout my entire career, whether as a patrol officer, sergeant, lieutenant or commander,” said Waller of the shift that starts at 10 p.m. and finishes at 8:00 a.m. “That suited me just fine, because I’m not a morning person.”

Waller reflects that crime was very low in the City of Arvada when he started, and that much of the area was rural in nature. At the time Waller began as a patrol officer, 80th and Wadsworth marked the north end of town, with only two farmhouses near the intersection.

While serving several rotations in the department’s Investigation’s Bureau – currently as the commander of the Bureau - Waller was associated with numerous high profile crimes. In one particular situation in 1974, Waller was tagged to investigate more than one dozen rape cases reported in Arvada and the surrounding areas, where the suspect identified women who lived alone and broke into their homes or apartments to sexually assault them.

After looking through the Department of Corrections parolee files (flipping through hundreds of pages by hand as there were no computers used at that time), a potential suspect was spotted based on a distinguishing feature on the perpetrator: a handlebar moustache.

Further investigation revealed that the suspect lived and worked in Arvada. Based on this information, Waller, other Arvada police detectives in conjunction with officers from throughout the Denver Metro area began 24-hour surveillance on this potential suspect.
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A cowboy from Arizona came to the Arvada Police Department in 1971. During the course of his 35-year career, he’s not only experienced many of the changes within the department, but has had a direct hand in shaping the police department into the premier law enforcement agency it is today.
Commander Jeff Waller is set to retire from the Arvada Police Department on July 6, 2006. Although he plans to pursue his passion for ranching and all-things-horses full time, it’s his passion for public safety that has led to an exceptional career.

“I worked many years on the graveyard shift throughout my entire career, whether as a patrol officer, sergeant, lieutenant or commander,” said Waller of the shift that starts at 10 p.m. and finishes at 8:00 a.m. “That suited me just fine, because I’m not a morning person.”

Waller reflects that crime was very low in the City of Arvada when he started, and that much of the area was rural in nature. At the time Waller began as a patrol officer, 80th and Wadsworth marked the north end of town, with only two farmhouses near the intersection.

While serving several rotations in the department’s Investigation’s Bureau – currently as the commander of the Bureau - Waller was associated with numerous high profile crimes. In one particular situation in 1974, Waller was tagged to investigate more than one dozen rape cases reported in Arvada and the surrounding areas, where the suspect identified women who lived alone and broke into their homes or apartments to sexually assault them.

After looking through the Department of Corrections parolee files (flipping through hundreds of pages by hand as there were no computers used at that time), a potential suspect was spotted based on a distinguishing feature on the perpetrator: a handlebar moustache.

Further investigation revealed that the suspect lived and worked in Arvada. Based on this information, Waller, other Arvada police detectives in conjunction with officers from throughout the Denver Metro area began 24-hour surveillance on this potential suspect.
Because the department didn’t have portable radios that would operate to the degree necessary for this comprehensive surveillance, the United States Secret Service lent their radios to allow law enforcement to stay in communication.

A break in the case came when the suspect returned to his home from work, changed into dark clothes and left his apartment at 2:00 in the morning.

“You have to understand, there was very little traffic on the roads at 2 a.m. in the morning, so to have the suspect not know that roughly a dozen cars were following him to an apartment complex in Broomfield from Arvada was a miracle,” said Waller.

Waller was able to remain undetected by the suspect while he followed him on foot once the suspect exited his car.

“I saw him remove the screen from one of the apartments and take off his shoes,” said Waller. “I told myself that I would let him get one foot on the windowsill and then make my move.”

When Waller grabbed the suspect, the savvy detective called him by name before this violent offender was able to sexually assault another woman.

Meanwhile, a new mother slept with her baby inside the apartment, completely unaware that a rapist was arrested outside of her window.

Not only did the suspect admit to the crimes, but thanked Waller for stopping him from committing another sexual assault.

Waller has recorded a number of successes throughout his career including leading the charge in creating the Crimes Against Children’s Unit. Although humble about his role in the organization of this critical unit within the department, it was his leadership that enabled the formation of the unit dedicated to investigating crimes against children.

Promoted to sergeant in 1976 and then onto lieutenant in 1982, Waller has had a simple leadership philosophy: “I hope that through my management style the people that I worked with were able to grow and develop in their own careers.”

While known throughout the department and the community, few know that Waller dedicates some of his free time to the Arvada Food Bank. Not only has he served on the Board of Directors for this special group, but also as the President of the organization.

One of the things Waller is most proud of, however, if the fact that his son, Eric, is following in his law enforcement footsteps, as he recently became a deputy with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Waller is in the process of building a ranch – including a new home and barn - in Elbert County. There he will rope, host trail rides, attend horse shows, train horses and stay active within the Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association.

“You wouldn’t associate 60-year-olds with just starting a ranch because of the hard work involved, but I do. It’s something that I love,” said Waller.
Because the department didn’t have portable radios that would operate to the degree necessary for this comprehensive surveillance, the United States Secret Service lent their radios to allow law enforcement to stay in communication.

A break in the case came when the suspect returned to his home from work, changed into dark clothes and left his apartment at 2:00 in the morning.

“You have to understand, there was very little traffic on the roads at 2 a.m. in the morning, so to have the suspect not know that roughly a dozen cars were following him to an apartment complex in Broomfield from Arvada was a miracle,” said Waller.

Waller was able to remain undetected by the suspect while he followed him on foot once the suspect exited his car.

“I saw him remove the screen from one of the apartments and take off his shoes,” said Waller. “I told myself that I would let him get one foot on the windowsill and then make my move.”

When Waller grabbed the suspect, the savvy detective called him by name before this violent offender was able to sexually assault another woman.

Meanwhile, a new mother slept with her baby inside the apartment, completely unaware that a rapist was arrested outside of her window.

Not only did the suspect admit to the crimes, but thanked Waller for stopping him from committing another sexual assault.

Waller has recorded a number of successes throughout his career including leading the charge in creating the Crimes Against Children’s Unit. Although humble about his role in the organization of this critical unit within the department, it was his leadership that enabled the formation of the unit dedicated to investigating crimes against children.

Promoted to sergeant in 1976 and then onto lieutenant in 1982, Waller has had a simple leadership philosophy: “I hope that through my management style the people that I worked with were able to grow and develop in their own careers.”

While known throughout the department and the community, few know that Waller dedicates some of his free time to the Arvada Food Bank. Not only has he served on the Board of Directors for this special group, but also as the President of the organization.

One of the things Waller is most proud of, however, if the fact that his son, Eric, is following in his law enforcement footsteps, as he recently became a deputy with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Waller is in the process of building a ranch – including a new home and barn - in Elbert County. There he will rope, host trail rides, attend horse shows, train horses and stay active within the Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association.

“You wouldn’t associate 60-year-olds with just starting a ranch because of the hard work involved, but I do. It’s something that I love,” said Waller.