Saying goodbye to ‘Officer Friendly’

Phil Stubblefield took the oath of office for Chief of Police on April 18, 2017. Three years later (almost to the day), he will retire on April 2, 2020 after 40 years in law enforcement.

MEEKER | After 40 distinguished years in law enforcement, Meeker Police Chief Phil Stubblefield will retire on April 2 after three years, almost to the day (April 18, 2017), in that position.

While chief of police is one of the great zeniths of law enforcement, Stubblefield’s career has been eclectic to say the least. Entering law enforcement as a deputy for the Emery County Sheriff in Utah, he served there from 1980 to 1984 and was ultimately promoted to detective. From there he came to Meeker, serving first as a patrolman and then becoming a lieutenant in 1985.

In 1995, Stubblefield was elected Rio Blanco County Sheriff and served two terms. During that time, he also served as the Public Information Officer (PIO)—this is a spokesperson for a governmental agency who provides information to the media and the public. Leaving Meeker for a time, he became the liaison between the Grand County Airport and the TSA from 2004–2006, there overseeing the no-fly list, doing background checks and performing other security duties.

Stubblefield then served as the chief investigator for the DA’s office in Cortez for three years before returning again to Meeker as a lieutenant in 2009. This position was not just about policing duties but also programs aimed at community relationships. Among many programs he founded—Elk Bugling Contest, Bicycle Rodeo, Shop with a Cop, Stranger Danger and Eddie Eagle Gun Safety—the Officer Friendly Program has been his favorite. This has involved going to the schools and doing a safety program associated with each grade, and he will get to do this one more time before he retires. These programs have, in fact, given him the most satisfaction in his job.

Stubblefield’s career has also included the academic side through the years, including: a Criminal Justice Degree from CNCC; certification as a vocational instructor; and teaching college and Police Academy courses. He has also earned several certificates, a few being: Investigations and Incident Command; Management; Supervision; Emergency Management; and FBI Rocky Mountain Command School.

It certainly sounds like Stubblefield will enjoy his retirement. He and some buddies “have a lodge/resort in Green River, Utah,” he said. But when he says “lodge” around Meeker, people ask, “Oh, what do they hunt there?” But it’s not a hunting lodge. It’s a resort where people can stay, kayak on the river, go mountain biking, four-wheeling, things like that.”

While not serving in the law enforcement field, he will still be able to help out the town in code enforcement, economic development and other such contributions. More time at home will also be a great plus, especially because of the arrival of six-month-old fraternal twin grandbabies.

As for Stubblefield’s replacement, “[The town] is doing advertisements around the state, on social media, and with hiring companies,” he said. The replacement could come from within, as one person in the department has applied, as well as another in the sheriff’s office, but there have also been three other applications from outside the area.

Scheduling of a retirement party is pending and will be advertised.

Thank you, Phil, for your 40 years of faithfully serving and protecting.

By DOC WATSON | Special to the Herald Times