Boulder’s new police chief says he’s inspired by own experience as victim of crime

Boulder Chief of Police Greg Testa.

Boulder Chief of Police Greg Testa.

BOULDER, Colo. — Boulder’s new police chief takes over a job that had been filled by the same man for 16 years.

Greg Testa has replaced Mark Beckner, who retired in April.

The new chief is a familiar face to the department that serves a population of 102,000.  It’s taken the 51-year-old 27 years to work his way to the top job as Boulder’s police chief.

The Northglenn native served nine weeks as interim chief.

It’s a job he accepted with great pride—even in the face of occasional challenges in the department.

“Always being a police officer was a dream job for me,” said Testa.

It’s a job Testa said he was inspired to adopted after what happened to him at a Safeway grocery store  in what was once an industrial part of Broomfield.

“I was a victim of an armed robbery and kidnapping, as a 16-year-old,” Testa said.

He was bagging groceries when two armed men started rounding up employees.

“All of a sudden, out of nowhere, this guy presented himself and put a gun to my head,” Testa said. “He took me through the back of the store and put me in a boiler room, laid me on the flood and threatened to shoot me in the head.”

That experience has been with Testa during his 30 years in law enforcement.

“I know what it’s like to be a victim. I have lots of compassion and understanding for victims of crime,” he said.

Testa said he has no compassion, however, for police officers, sworn to uphold the law, but break it.

The Boulder Police Department has had its share of officer misconduct controversies including two officers who killed an elk and lied about it, drunken cops and one who threatened to kill an ex-girlfriend.

“Those individuals made decisions that are not indicative of our organization,” Testa said. “We’re accountable. We are an accountable organization. We’re transparent to our community.”

The new chief said the department is ready for future challenges in the community including, he suspects, will include growing heroin use, mental health problems and the homeless.

Testa said he has no plans to reignite the investigation into Boulder’s most famous cold case, the killing of Jon Benet Ramsey.

“There is no goal or move to take that in front of a grand jury any time soon,” he said.

Testa doesn’t expect to make any big changes to the 285-person department that’s seen little change at the top—with community policing still a stop priority.

In between catching criminals, he hopes to catch some fish. Fly fishing is one of his favorite hobbies.

“I love getting out, being on the water, kind of by yourself. It just gives you time to think,” he said.

Testa has been married for 28 years and has two adult children—one who is a student at nearby University of Colorado.

He probably won’t rival Beckner’s 16-year reign as chief. Testa said he plans to serve up to 10 years before retiring.