History of our Sheriffs
Learn about the those who have held the office of Sheriff
Since 1883, Mesa County Sheriffs have been elected into office by local voters.
A Sheriff may serve up to three four-year terms.
Mesa County has been fortunate to have such distinguished law enforcement men and women serve as Sheriff.
Todd Rowell (2021-Present)
Sheriff Todd Rowell served 20 years with the Mesa County Sheriff's Office before being sworn in August 2021 to complete retired Sheriff Matt Lewis' remaining term. He was officially elected to the office of Sheriff and was sworn in in January 2022. Sheriff Rowell is a native of Colorado, a United States Marine Corps Veteran, and holds an Associate's Degree in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor's Degree in Public Administration.
Sheriff Rowell has served in multiple divisions and leadership positions, including supervising Court Services, Professional Standards, and Patrol Operations. Sheriff Rowell has also received two Life Saving Awards and an Excellence Award.
Matt Lewis (2015-2021)
Sheriff Matt Lewis was first elected to office in November 2014 and was with the agency for 25 years. He was sworn into office on January 13, 2015, at the age of 40. Sheriff Lewis began his career as a Detentions Deputy in the Mesa County Detention Facility in 1996. He transferred to patrol, and as his career progressed, he was a Drug Task Force Investigator before being promoted to Sergeant. As a Sergeant, he supervised patrol teams, the Professional Standards Unit, the Property Crimes Unit, and the Complex Crimes Unit, and also served as the agency’s Public Information Officer. When Sheriff Lewis took office, he focused the agency on the values of Integrity, Service, and Community. Sheriff Lewis retired from his elected position to become the Director of Safety and Security for Community Hospital in August 2021. But he couldn't stay away. In 2022, he was convinced to return to work for the County as the Director of Criminal Justice Services.
Rebecca Spiess (2014-2015)
Rebecca Spiess served eight years with the Mesa County Sheriff's Office before being appointed to complete Sheriff Stan Hilkey's remaining months of his elected term in office. Sheriff Spiess served as Undersheriff in the Hilkey administration for most of her time at the Sheriff's Office. Before that, she served as a Lieutenant with the Professional Standards Unit and the Captain over the Support Services Division. She carried on the high standard of customer service, ethical reputation, and nationally recognized leadership previously established by Sheriff Hilkey. After the election and swearing-in of Sheriff Matt Lewis in January 2015, she remained with the agency serving once again as Undersheriff for Sheriff Lewis until May 2015. In May 2015, Rebecca became the Deputy Executive Director of Public Safety for the State of Colorado, once again serving under the leadership of former Sheriff Stan Hilkey. She retired from the Department of Public Safety three years later.
Stan Hilkey (2003-2014)
Sheriff Stan Hilkey was first elected to office in November 2002 after serving the Mesa County Sheriff's Office for 17 years. The son of a prominent law enforcement family in western Colorado (a maternal uncle and his father were both previous Rio Blanco County Sheriffs), Sheriff Hilkey said he foresaw his first term as an opportunity to build on the successes of previous administrations, as well as to continue moving the agency forward with regard to technology and philosophically. Taking office in an era of profound national security concerns, Sheriff Hilkey sought to build a seamless, integrated public safety system with other local, state, and federal agencies that enhanced the quality of life for Mesa County residents and visitors. He was elected three times by an overwhelming majority of votes during his tenure. He embraced social media as a means to communicate directly with citizens. During the economic downturn, he had to cut the agency's budget by 4 million dollars, kept customer service response high, and was a national figure in Evidence-Based Decision Making practices. After 28 years with Mesa County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Hilkey stepped down from his elected position to become the Director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety in June 2014. This is a cabinet-level position within Colorado Governor's administration.
Riecke Claussen (1991-2003)
Elected to office in 1990, Sheriff Riecke Claussen's administration witnessed dramatic societal changes in Mesa County in, which it experienced the most rapid and extended period of growth seen since the 19th century. The agency reflected this growth by opening and expanding a state-of-the-art detention facility, patrol teams organized around neighborhoods, specialization of investigative resources, and community outreach programs.
Claussen's emphasis on law enforcement ethics developed a true sense of mission and vision among agency members that became inculcated in the Office's daily activities. An organizational passion for hiring and training processes that ensured high standards of professionalism and skill were met or exceeded.
Claussen's term also encompassed the two major historical events of the Year 2000 (Y2k) and September 11, 2001, emphasizing the imperative for a new age of multi-agency cooperation and teamwork. This new cooperation was epitomized by Claussen's involvement in developing the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Grand Valley Joint Drug Task Force, utilizing local, state, and federal narcotics officers to battle the ongoing problem of drugs in Mesa County and Colorado.
The agency also evolved during his administration into a regional training center, bringing national educational resources to western Colorado peace officers. Claussen's administration, signaling a major transition from rural-oriented law enforcement to more complex and urban policing strategies, ushered in an era of modern jail operations, technologically advanced law enforcement tools, higher standards of professionalism, and a deep commitment to community policing.
Dick Williams (1972-1991)
Serving in law enforcement for all but 21 of his 58 years of life, Sheriff Dick Williams was a beloved public figure in Mesa County. His humility belied the value of his contributions through implementing Neighborhood Watch programs, calls for the construction of a modernized detention facility, and, most importantly, his work in developing a community corrections program that set a standard for the state of Colorado.
The Mesa County Community Corrections Board created a vision and model that saves thousands of taxpayer dollars through safe and effective alternative sentences for convicted criminal offenders. This pilot program was so successful the Mesa County Criminal Justice Services Department grew out of it to encompass residential community corrections, residential work release, useful public service, pre-trial services, and non-residential community corrections.
Williams' legacy to Mesa County through the Community Corrections Board is a solid judicial foundation focusing on saved public funds, restitution for victims, and rehabilitation for offenders.
Ray Reese (1959-1972)
Joining Redmon's administration as Undersheriff in 1946 after his discharge from the Marine Corps, Sheriff Ray Reese served Mesa County until he died in 1972. Reese was elected Sheriff following Redmon's retirement in 1958 and served three and one-half terms over a rapidly expanding department.
Sheriff Reese is remembered as an important western Colorado law enforcement officer who instinctively understood the value of problem-oriented policing, which has since become a well-accepted concept in law enforcement around the world known as community policing. Reese had great empathy for the community, recognizing the importance of his officers responding to all concerns - small and large - to create and maintain a sense of security and well-being throughout the County.
Everett E. Redmon (1946-1958)
A World War I Veteran and resident of the beautiful Grand Mesa, Sheriff Everett E. Redmon was elected to his office in 1946 and served for 12 years. An essential member of the newly formed Western Slope Peace Officers Association, Redmon retired from law enforcement to enter the ranching business in the DeBeque and Mesa areas of Mesa County.
John Quincy Adams (1943-1946)
Born in Nebraska and raised in Delta County, Colorado, Sheriff John Quincy Adams moved to Grand Junction in 1924. An active community member, Adams served as Mesa County sheriff from 1942 to 1947, leaving office to become a hardware salesman and owner of Orchard Bowling Lanes.
Hardy E. Decker (1941-1942)
Hardy Decker was born in January 1878 in Grand Tower, Illinois, to Mr. Henry W. and Mrs. Phoebe Decker. The Decker family moved to Elbert, Colorado, in 1888. In March of 1903, he and Miss Cappie Ramey were united in marriage, and the couple moved to Oak Creek, Colorado. He served as the town Marshal until moving to Nederland, Colorado, in 1917. While in Nederland, he also filled the Marshal position until moving to Grand Junction, Colorado, in 1921.
He resided at 247 White Avenue and worked as a salesman and a laborer until 1927, when he became the Chief of Police for the City of Grand Junction. At that time, the Police Department was located at 605 White Ave. During his time there, he actively pursued and excelled as a Fingerprint Expert and followed that endeavor of expertise during the war.
He remained the Police Chief until 1938. At that time, he followed the "prospector/miner" livelihood until Sheriff Lumley died while in office in 1941. Hardy Decker filled the remaining term of Sheriff through 1942 and then returned to mining. Hardy was called "Chief" by his many friends in western Colorado until he passed away in May 1950 and is buried beside his wife in the Orchard Mesa Cemetery.
Charles Lumley (1929-1941)
Described as a "philosopher sheriff," Charles Lumley was known and beloved throughout western Colorado as a man who took pride in keeping troubled young people outside of prison walls. Quoted in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Lumley believed that "if a person can save one boy out of a dozen, he has done more for humanity than he would do if he sent all 12 to jail." Also known to federal investigators for the "fine grapevine" he kept on criminal networks, Lumley was known to have saved the community from the cost and turmoil of major crimes diverted by his able management of situations and the philosophy he inspired in his officers. Lumley died while still in office from an attack of meningitis. His funeral in 1941 was attended by more than 1,000 residents and colleagues from around Colorado, one of the largest funerals ever known in Grand Junction.
Joe Collier (1925-1928)
Another fruit grower, Sheriff Joe Collier, served in law enforcement for both Grand Junction and Mesa County. "Highly respected by all who knew him," Collier ran for Sheriff in 1925 after serving three and a half years as a Grand Junction police officer. As Sheriff, Collier was "at all times conscientious and faithful in the duties of that Office" and received hearty praise from the U.S. Department of Justice at the end of his term for his "high standards and the fine quality of his work and faithfulness." Upon retirement from law enforcement, Collier moved to Palisade to grow peaches, at which he was quite successful.
Frank N. DuCray (1921-1923)
Frank DuCray served as Sheriff from 1921 to 1923. He held many jobs in his life, including teacher, wrestler, coach, youth leader, and Sheriff of Mesa County.
He is remembered in western Colorado as a colorful figure who advocated the strenuous life of education, athleticism, and abstinence. He coached Grand Junction High School championship football teams and wrestlers at Western State College.
DuCray became the first elected sheriff following the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - the Prohibition amendment. His term, starting in 1921, focused on his efforts to "dry up" the County, which won him few friends, and he was not reelected in 1923. DuCray returned to education, working throughout western Colorado as a teacher and superintendent of schools.
Jefferson Watson (1915-1920; 1923-1924)
An early Mesa County cattle pioneer, Sheriff Jefferson Watson, served as Schrader's Undersheriff and was subsequently elected to two of his own terms as Sheriff in 1915 and 1923, before and after Sheriff Frank DuCray.
Charles F. Schrader (1908-1914)
Arriving in Colorado from Illinois in 1888, Sheriff Charles F. Schrader began work as a surveyor with the Burlington Railroad. In 1890, he moved to Grand Junction as a railroad engineer, at which he was employed until 1906, when he was elected sheriff, becoming one of the "best-known sheriffs Mesa County has ever had." His career in politics was of particular interest. According to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, "he was a staunch Democrat in the era when this was a Republican county, and his election was a tribute to the general confidence in his ability and honesty."
Schrader served as sheriff through 1914, an era of wet and dry elections when liquor interests from outside the County exerted significant influence on local elections. His obituary recalls one incident in which his cooperation with the Dry Committee of Grand Junction allowed the city to "escape trouble at the polls." The night before a wet and dry election, a large number of transients, who were said to have been illegally registered to vote, were warned by Schrader they would be arrested if they attempted to vote under names not their own; throughout that night, several hundred transients left town without attempting to influence the vote. His conscientious attention to duty earned Schrader a third term as Sheriff, breaking the tradition against such elections in Mesa County.
William G. Struthers (1902-1908)
Sheriff William G. Struthers served as Sheriff from 1902-1908. During his term, our first elected Sheriff's son, Deputy Edward Innes, became the first Mesa County deputy to die in the line of duty. Sheriff Struthers was most known for leading the successful investigation into Deputy Innes' murder. Learn more about Deputy Edward Innes.
Charles Wallis (1898-1902)
Leaving home at 16 years of age, Charles Wallis arrived in Mesa County in 1886 to become one of the founding pioneers of this community. Elected sheriff in 1897, Wallis served two terms, became Grand Junction's first Police Chief, and later served as Undersheriff for Sheriff Charles Schrader. Wallis was also highly recognized in the livestock industry, working at a time when heated disputes developed between cattle and sheep interests. During the years of the Boer War, Wallis collected prized horses in western Colorado to sell to agents of the British Army.
John D. Reeder (1896-1898)
Sheriff John D. Reeder came west as a young man, born in Grundy County, Missouri, arriving in Grand Junction in 1883. During his first years here, he worked in the nursery business, took over the Pony Express mail service between Grand Junction and Meeker, and became Sheriff in 1894. Sheriff Charles H. Wallis succeeded Reeder in 1897, whereupon he moved to Palisade at the east end of the valley to become one of the earliest and most prosperous growers of our famous peaches.
Milton Cramer (1888-1892)
No additional information available.
J.O. Bradish (1886-1887)
No additional information available.
William Innes (1883-1886; 1892-1896)
An Ontario, Canada native, William Innes arrived in Illinois at 21. Eventually, he moved to Colorado with his family to start the first sawmill in western Colorado near Whitewater. Innes became the newly chartered Mesa County's first elected sheriff for one term, serving a second term six years later. After leaving office, Innes returned to the lumber industry. His only child, Edward Innes, was killed in the line of duty as a Mesa County deputy in 1906.
Martin Florida (1883)
The first Sheriff, Martin Florida, was appointed by then Colorado Governor James Grant after Mesa County became its own county, separating from Gunnison County in 1883.