Vernon Knuckles, undersheriff for Montezuma County, has been chosen as the new police chief for the city of Cortez. He had served in the county sheriff ’s department for nine years and had been undersheriff since 2017.
A lifelong native of Southwest Colorado, Knuckles said in a statement, “I have personal insight into what the chief of police in Cortez will require and the community I would be serving. I understand the unique challenges associated with Southwest Colorado and I am excited about this opportunity.”
Knuckles will take the place of Roy Lane, who was Colorado’s longest-serving police chief until he retired in 2019, having been the city’s chief for 30 years. Lane died in December 2019 after a long-term illness.
“We are excited to have someone with Vernon’s leadership skill set and experience as a law enforcement officer in our community,” said Cortez City Manager John Dougherty in a statement. “I look forward to working with him on the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
Knuckles has a bachelor’s degree in government from Grand Canyon University with an emphasis on state and local policy, as well as a multitude of leadership training certificates.
Knuckles has served in the Utah National Guard for 35 years and earned a Bronze Star Medal in 2004 for service in Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as being awarded the Army Achievement Medal twice for leadership and soldier readiness. Knuckles served as a police officer for the city of Cortez from 1996 through 2005.
He will begin his work as police chief on June 22.