Chief Marshal Josh Comte

Judge Susanne Ross sworn in new Chief Marshal Josh Comte at Rebekah Hall Tuesday. (Photo by Bria Light/Telluride Daily Planet)

Telluride officially welcomed new Chief Marshal Josh Comte to town at a swearing-in ceremony at Rebekah Hall Tuesday morning. The incoming marshal is taking the reins from Chief Marshal Jim Kolar, who recently retired.

The atmosphere was jovial at the Tuesday morning council meeting as San Miguel County Judge Susanne Ross officially swore in the new chief, along with newly elected council members Adrienne Christy and Lars Carlson, as well as new mayor DeLanie Young. Before a full house, including about 15 police officers from Comte’s former police department in Newport Beach, California, Ross joked prior to the marshal’s oath, “Even if I didn’t want to do this, I don’t think I would dare not to,” she said, referring to the large police presence in the room, eliciting chuckles from the crowd. Right hand raised, the new marshal repeated the oath of office, swearing to uphold the Constitution and the law of the land.

“I’m really happy to be here,” Comte said. “I’m excited about this position and the opportunity to work in a town that’s given my family and myself a lot over the years.”

Comte began his career in law enforcement in Newport Beach, California, where he worked for 15 years. When he left the department to accept the job in Telluride, he had been working as a sergeant detective in the property crimes division, where he focused on investigating crimes such as theft, burglary, vandalism and fraud within the city. Inspired to pursue a career in law enforcement by his drive to help others, Comte still loves getting out and talking to people in the community.

“Sitting behind a desk all day every day never really appealed to me,” he said. “I played team sports for a long time so being part of a team, part of a group, was always something that I really enjoyed; the camaraderie that comes from it. It’s a great job. You get to see a lot of interesting things and you get to help people out.”

While the weather from “75 degrees and sunny year-round” will be a change for Comte, Telluride is already a place that feels like home for the incoming marshal.

“My family and I have been coming to Telluride since I was about 5 years old,” Comte said. Once he started a family of his own, he still tried to visit Telluride as much as possible. Eventually the family built a cabin on Hastings Mesa, and would make the trip to the box canyon to ski and enjoy the mountains a couple of times per year.

Because of his love of the Telluride community, “I was following the Telluride Marshal’s Department, and I saw this job was posted. I figured I’d throw my name in the hat, and lo and behold, here I am,” Comte said. “We’re excited about being a part of the community and raising our kids here and really digging in.”

With two young children, he also noted the draw of the high quality schools in the area. He and his wife are looking forward to being able to walk the children to school, something they didn’t get to do in Newport Beach.

He also praised the outgoing Kolar for his longtime commitment to the success of the department.

“Chief Kolar’s done a great job building the department to where it is right now, so I’ll want to continue in that direction by establishing a really good working relationship with the community,” he said. “I think that’s important in a town this size, you need to be open to dialogue and discussions and work together to solve the common problems.”

After the first week on the job, learning the ropes of a new department and meeting as many people as possible, Comte is feeling optimistic about putting down long-term roots in Telluride.

“Everyone in the town has been very welcoming so far,” he said.