MORRISON, Colo. — Driving into Morrison, it’s not uncommon to see police officers on the side of the road writing tickets.
Morrison has been known for its speed traps. It has been the primary funding mechanism for such a small town that has its own police department
Morrison’s new chief of police says he's aware of the town's reputation.
“In the past, in the articles, there was that Morrison was a speed trap, that the officers here didn't really do a lot. I mean, there were other things to do, but they wrote a lot of speeding tickets,” said Morrison Police Chief Bill Vinelli.
Chief Vinelli says he has never been issued a quota by the town board, but it is a perception he wants to change.
“I really felt that with the stigma that the town of Morrison had in the past, that my leadership style and me being just a person, I would be able to change some people's minds about what Morrison was and what Morrison is going to be,” he said.
While many business owners in town opted not to comment and get involved in town politics, Gary Conte, owner of Tony Rigatoni, is happy to see officers back in town.
“It's comfort knowing that if something goes wrong in the town. In their bars in the town, something always goes wrong, you know, especially with the busy summer season coming up with Red Rocks and everything else,” said Conte.
Some Morrison residents told Denver7 they don’t think a department is necessary for the town of fewer than 500 people — something Mark Harris disagrees with.
“I don't think it really should be based on the population," Harris said. "It should be based on the traffic coming through here."
With a major concert venue around the corner, he sees the department as crucial.
“The residents of the town of Morrison wanted a police department back. I think we're fulfilling their expectations of what a police department should be,” said Chief Vinelli.
Including the chief, Morrison has seven full-time police officers and six part-time officers. Eventually, the chief says he’d like to have his department cover all 24 hours of the day. Right now, JeffCo deputies work the overnight shifts.
“My short-term goal is to be the best police department that we can be with the resources we have so that everybody feels comfortable and safe coming to Morrison,” said Chief Vinelli.
It's a new chapter for a police department with a long, controversial past and a lot to prove if perceptions are going to change.