Since 1977, Capt. Robert "Bob" Chaffee has served the CSU Police Department and the CSU community with pride. At the end of July, the department will say farewell to its much-revered captain when Chaffee retires from duty with the CSUPD.
"I've been lucky and privileged to serve here because it's a great department with wonderful people," Chaffee said. "They're my family."
Born and raised in Fort Collins, Chaffee began his career as a reserve with Fort Collins Police Services before taking on a job at CSU. One week after accepting the position, he was offered a job with the Loveland police, but turned it down. Chaffee said he has no regrets for coming to CSU instead of Loveland.
"You always ask those questions, but I figure this is the place the good Lord's had me for reasons that make sense to him even if I don't understand on any given day," Chaffee said.
Working with the CSUPD, Chaffee has seen many students come and go. Chaffee said that meeting and getting to know these students is one of the best parts of the job.
"It's been intriguing to meet so many thousands of students. There are roughly 4,000 students that come through each year, and having been here almost 30 years, that's about 1.2 million students," Chaffee said.
Chaffee has also seen about 250 to 300 student officers come through the department. Many of those have gone on to agencies across the nation, he said.
"We've had a positive impact on law enforcement throughout the country, just as a tiny little campus agency," Chaffee said.
The department has had a huge positive effect locally, too. Chaffee, known to carry a book of cowboy quotes with him, says that a positive attitude is the key to a happy and successful career.
"My grandmother always said we all put out arrows. Whether the arrows go up and around, down and around, or out and around, they come back to hit you in the back. So always put out the positive arrows," he said. "You really hope you've had some positive impact on some peoples' lives in he coursing of walking through your life."
Many students don't see police officers as human beings, but only as the people that get them in trouble. Chaffee said that it's all part of the job, and officers don't want to be the bad guy at all.
"I'd rather be Andy in Mayberry than Robocop. It fits me better," he said.
Officer Michelle Amundsen worked with Chaffee for three years, and has had amazing experiences with him, she said.
"Capt. Chaffee is so humanized. Not only is he a great leader and a great listener, but he really takes you under his wing and tries to make you a better officer," Amundsen said.
Officer Ramsey Crochet echoed Amundsen's sentiments, adding that Chaffee really cares about the people he works with.
"Capt. Chaffee's got a heart of gold. He's a really great guy and I couldn't ask for a better captain," Crochet said.
Throughout Chaffee's career, his wife, Norma, and their three children have been a source of constant support, he said. His retirement will give them the time to do the things they've always wanted.
"Now it's time to move on, raise some grandchildren and make a positive impact on their lives," Chaffee said. "My wife's invested almost 30 years in my career. Now it's time for me to help her and I build some memories."
One of the most memorable moments Chaffee experienced here at CSU was the flood in 1997. The department had to start over without uniforms or equipment after it was all wiped away.
"The community really came together to help us move on from that," he said. "We even got stuff sent to us from a Manitoba police department. They'd heard about the flood and just wanted to help. That was amazing."
Through many difficult tragedies, Chaffee has tried to keep his positive mentality, avoiding the cynicism that is stereotypical of seasoned officers.
"People talk about how cops have those hard shells, but I've tried over the years not to be cynical. We serve students and there's just too much good in them if you take the time to see it," Chaffee said. "You just have to have heart, and there are times that that's what gets you through this job."
Chaffee has received an outstanding achievement award from the university, and has also been recognized as a GLBT ally and a Native American Student Services supporter.
"I didn't do it by myself. We all did it together," Chaffee said.
The CSUPD has named Frank Johnson of Racine, Wis., as the new assistant chief. Chaffee offered his advice to the incoming officer.
"Build trust in the community and trust in your officers to help get that done," he said. "When I'm gone, somebody's not going to have great big shoes to fill, but I hope they're good shoes to fill. I've tried hard to get there."
Ceremony to be held 2:30 pm Thursday in the North Ballroom of the LSC.