Recently-retired Boulder County Sheriff's Office Division Chief Phil West was presented Tuesday with the prestigious Colorado Attorney General's Excellence in Law Enforcement Award during a brief ceremony at the department's east Boulder headquarters.
The award, established in 2009, is given to just one law enforcement official in Colorado each year, with the winner being hand selected by the attorney general from a pool of exemplary candidates.
Attorney General John Suthers presented the award to West, and added his name to a plaque that hangs in the Colorado Attorney General's office.
"It is clear that over a storied career, Division Chief West treated everyone with respect and dignity and acted professionally at all times," Suthers said, noting not one complaint appeared in West's service record. "He is a man of personal integrity, courage, compassion and humility."
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle personally nominated West. In his nomination letter, Pelle said that during his career West "assumed leadership roles in many, many high profile cases, special events and natural disasters including flash floods and major forest fires."
Pelle also lauded West for spending 28 years as the chief advisor of Explorer Post 500, the Boulder County Sheriff's office's cadet program that both West and Pelle were part of, prior to becoming certified deputies. West mentored more than 1,000 young people through the program, according to Pelle, about 150 of whom became law enforcement officers.
"A lot of the things that he did were behind the scenes, just like running the cadet program. There's no glory in that," Pelle said of West. "But the end result is that he mentored hundreds of young people."
Among those West impacted through his work with the Explorer program was Deputy Sheriff Leonard Lovely, now of the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.
"He has the strongest character and highest amount of integrity and kindness of anyone I've ever met," said Lovely, who attended the awards event. "The guy has been a beacon in my life personally and professionally."
West, who retired from the sheriff's office in June but is still helping out with some historical and archival projects, accepted the award with the modesty and humility that Pelle said has been his trademark throughout his career.
He brought up his wife, Patti, during the ceremony and thanked her for supporting him in his career and life, especially when he was working nights.
"It's very prestigious company," West said of the award. "I am very sincere when I say that there are at least a dozen others in this organization that are more deserving than I am. It's a little overwhelming."