New Gold Hill Police commander goes way back with Westside ties
The new commander of the Gold Hill Police Division is no stranger to the Westside.
In fact, you'd have to go back three generations in the family of James Patrick “Pat” Rigdon to find anyone who was.
He himself is a Springs native, graduating in Palmer High's Class of '87. In those days, “I spent quite a little time over here,” he said of the Westside, where several family members lived (and an aunt still does). Such geographic proximity has also been the case during the past three years, when he's served as a lieutenant at the Gold Hill Substation, 955 W. Moreno St.
Usually, the strategy of Colorado Springs police officials is not to promote commanders from within the divisions where they've been working. But they made an exception in the case of the 21-year police veteran. “I think it was because of my familiarity with the Westside and downtown issues,” Rigdon said. “They thought it was the best fit to leave me here. And I was really happy with that.”
His good impression was not diminished by the recent No Man's Land public meeting. Residents didn't just come to complain about crime, he observed, but they showed they were “willing to pitch in and help.”
Such a willingness to work with police is crucial in the current era, in which “law enforcement resources aren't what they were,” Rigdon said. “We can't assign an officer to every little problem.”
The new commander has spent some years outside the Springs. He earned an undergraduate degree from Cornell College in Iowa (where he met his wife, who also happens to be from Colorado), and his first four years in law enforcement were with the police department in Laramie, Wyoming.
An opening with the CSPD brought him back home in 1995. Rigdon has risen through the departmental ranks ever since, adding to his stature along the way by earning a masters degree in criminal justice from UCCS. (This year, the department sent him for special 10-week training at the FBI Academy near Washington, D.C.)
His initial five years in Colorado Springs were as a patrol officer. After that, Rigdon was assigned to the areas of investigations and violent crimes. He was promoted to sergeant in 2003, then became part of the SWAT team for four years. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2008 before his assignment to Gold Hill.
Rigdon replaces Tish Olszewski (now commander of Investigations).
The Gold Hill Division covers a southwesterly swathe of the city, including the Westside. The substation on Moreno was opened in 2005. The staff there includes about 85 patrol officers, as well as the three Homeless Outreach Team (“Hot Team”) members and four detectives focused on property crimes, Rigdon explained.
Asked for more detail about his family's local history, he noted that his grandfather on his mother's side worked on the Cog railway in the 1920s and '30s and later as a fireman for the Midland Terminal railroad. His grandmother ran the snack shop at the top of the Incline at one point.
On his father's side, Rigdon said his grandfather was a Cripple Creek miner in the '30s and had a brother who was a sheriff in Cripple Creek around the same time.
Westside Pioneer article