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Morrison’s interim police chief hopes to connect with community

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By Deborah Swearingen

Name a job in law enforcement, and George Mumma likely has held it.

The Littleton resident has worked as a patrol and SWAT officer with the Littleton Police Department and spent time on the K9 unit with the Lakewood Police Department before joining the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office as a senior investigator.

Now, he has taken on a new role as interim chief of the Morrison Police Department. The town officially hired him Oct. 10 after former chief Rudy Sandoval retired in late September.

As interim chief, Mumma plans to spend much of his time connecting with the community. In his first weeks on the job, Mumma is learning the ins and outs of the agency by riding through town with his employees and meeting residents and business owners. After being hired, Mumma met with the town’s board of directors and realized many are longtime residents of Morrison. As someone who lives in the town where he grew up, the new interim chief can relate to the residents’ pride for their small, quirky town.

“To me, that’s just the coolest,” Mumma said. “When they ask, what do you bring? Well, I bring the small-town guy.”

“I think maintaining the small-town feel is really important for your community,” he added.

The path to Morrison

Although he initially planned to be a pediatrician, Mumma’s life took him in a different direction. He can remember the night working as a paramedic in downtown Denver that changed everything.

“Our ambulance got shot at, and I talked to a couple of Denver cops who said, ‘Man, you should become a policeman,’” Mumma said. “And the rest is history.”

For years, Mumma worked collaboratively with agencies across Jeffco while serving as the law enforcement liaison for the county, and he partnered with Jeffco Public Schools, Jeffco Human Services and other entities to help build the county’s juvenile assessment center.

These collaborative experiences will benefit him as a police chief, according to District Attorney Pete Weir, who called Mumma “a great guy and extraordinarily dedicated professional.”

“He’s got a great history of working with so many different agencies,” Weir said. “… For many years, he’s been acting in an extremely collaborative fashion, which I think is absolutely critical for the CEO of a law enforcement agency.

“I expect him to do a great job for the citizens of Morrison,” he added.

Morrison Town Administrator Kara Winters echoed this thought.

“Mumma has experience training and collaborating with other agencies, which I believe will be very useful for a small community like Morrison,” she said.

Looking ahead

Mumma’s position is a temporary one, but he has already applied for the permanent job with the hope of staying in Morrison long enough to affect change.

The small police department, which serves the mountain town of fewer than 500, has been in a period of adjustment after Sandoval’s retirement and the arrest of Anthony Joiner, a former lieutenant accused of stealing more than $132,000 from the town.

The new interim chief said he hopes to rebuild morale in the department.

“It’s a tough go when you’ve been beaten down like that and had an event like that occur,” he said. “So building these guys up and making things positive for them and getting stuff in place so they can do their jobs, that’s pretty much what I’m doing right now.”

Part of that change will involve reworking the department’s policy manual, which Mumma said became “priority one” after he perused the book upon being hired. He also plans to begin using the e-filing system for police reports to help eliminate some of the paper flow.

“In four months, I might be able to accomplish that,” he said with a smile.

In addition to restoring morale in the department, Mumma understands the importance of gaining trust in the community.

“We don’t have that many people here, and so for them to feel comfortable with their police department’s huge,” he said.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.