Breckenridge’s first female police chief, with more than two decades of experience in law enforcement, will soon have the opportunity to work with all aspects of the town. Police chief Shannon Haynes will be promoted to the position of assistant town manager on April 16, Breckenridge town manager Rick Holman announced last week.
“Over the past few years, Shannon has continuously demonstrated her leadership ability not only with our staff, but also within the community as she has led our parking and transit consultant team,” Holman said in a statement.
After four weeks of recruitment, and reviewing nearly 100 applicants, the town selected Haynes from five finalists for the position on March 28. Having served with the Breckenridge Police Department for eight years, including chairing the town’s parking and transit taskforce, Haynes has some background in local municipal matters.
“I’m just excited for the opportunity,” Haynes said. “I’m ready to move into a different aspect of public service.”
Haynes has a bachelor’s degree from Teikyo Post University, a masters with a focus on leadership from Kaplan University, and recently completed a certified public manager program at the University of Colorado Denver.
“I’m oddly passionate about parking and transit with my current involvement,” Haynes added. “I wanted to have the opportunity to have a broader influence in what I was doing.”
Haynes first joined the Breckenridge Police Department as a sergeant in 2008 under Holman, who was chief at the time. Prior to the move, she had served as a lieutenant in Windsor, Connecticut for several years.
“It was a great opportunity to get back to policing on the road,” Haynes said.
While Haynes has always had an interest in law enforcement, she pursued a career in policing after she had graduated. Haynes was working for an insurance company, “like everyone in Connecticut,” when the opportunity opened in a nearby town.
“I was always one that, if there was an opening, I would throw my hat in the ring,” Haynes said.
During her time in Windsor, Haynes worked on a few different programs, including incorporating child safety seat checks at DUI points, which included giving away and helping install car seats.
“To be able to provide them with a car seat was a huge deal,” Haynes said. “Not all of them had the means.”
She stayed with Windsor for 12 years before moving to Breckenridge. During her service with the department, Haynes worked to incorporate Crisis Intervention Training for all officers, which she first learned in Connecticut. The Breckenridge Police Department offered the 40-hour training for the first time in 2014.
“It gives officers the tools to engage in situations, de-escalate them and get the person the help they need,” Haynes said. “I’m a firm believer that people with mental illness end up in the justice system and that’s not where they belong.
Haynes said the training can also provide useful in other situations where emotions run high, such as domestic calls. The department also works with Mind Springs Health to help provide programs to residents they often encounter with mental health concerns.
“That’s one of the programs I’m most proud of,” Haynes said. “I’ve been really lucky to work with progressive police departments that allow me to do more non-traditional police activities.”
Under her leadership as chief, Breckenridge police have emphasized customer service, retention and community policing.
“It is a very interesting job and it’s been an amazing career,” Haynes added.
BRECK PD ANNOUNCES SUCCESSOR
On Friday, the Breckenridge Police Department announced assistant chief Dennis McLaughlin would take Haynes’ place as chief after the transition. McLaughlin has served as assistant chief of police since 2014, helping manage police department operations, patrol and investigations. He also started the department’s first “Coffee with a Cop” public engagement opportunity.
“I believe Dennis is the right person to continue the police department efforts related to community policing, citizen engagement and customer service,” Haynes said in a statement. “During his time with the department, Dennis has demonstrated a strong ability to lead and influence our staff in support of our community and organizational values.”
McLaughlin began his 30-year law enforcement career at the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, also serving at the Lakewood Police Department before moving to the Plane Police Department.
McLaughlin has a graduate certificate in police management, as well as a bachelor’s in psychology from Columbia College, a master’s in theology from Trinity Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in historical philosophy from St. Thomas Theological Seminary at DePaul University.