Good-bye to two good cops

Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Schrader, who used to carpool to work with Tom Acernio, attended Acernio’s retirement party July 15. On the far left and right are Donna and Tom Acernio. Between them is Sheriff Jeff Schrader and his wife Jane. (Photo by Lynn Bartels)
Trooper Mike Fohrd and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at an event in April. (Photo by Lynn Bartels)

Two of my favorite men in blue — the Colorado State Patrol’s Mike Fohrd and Jeffco Sheriff’s Tom Acernio — were honored at retirement parties last month.

I made it to Tom’s party, which was held July 15 just down the street from my house at the Potenza Lodge in north Denver.  I had to skip Mike’s party the day before at the Governor’s Mansion, and for that I blame Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach because I was working on a news release about the White House’s election commission.

I met Mike in 2000 when I first started covering the state Capitol and he was assigned to the crew guarding then Gov. Bill Owens and his family. Through the years I always delighted in seeing him, whether he was ferrying around a governor or handling security at the Capitol south door.  “You can let her through,” he would tell the security folks. “She practically lives here.”

Trooper Mike Fohrd at a 2013 event with former First Lady Jeannie Ritter and her daughter Tally, and former First Lady Frances Owens and her daughter Monica. Fohrd worked on the security detail for both families when their husbands were in office. (Facebook photo)

When I left journalism in 2015, Mike was one of the first people I introduced to my new boss, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

I am going to miss that big smile under that big mustache of Mike’s. He officially retired on June 30 after 25.5 years, achieving the rank of technician.

Tom and I believe we first met in 1993, when I moved to Colorado from New Mexico to cover the police beat for the Rocky Mountain News. I got to know his wife Donna when I began covering the Capitol because she was the administrative assistant to Speaker Doug Dean.

At Tom’s retirement party, his son leafed through a scrapbook of stories and said to me, “I don’t see anything written by you.” That’s a good thing, I told him, because I covered Columbine. Tom was assigned to some inter-agency details during his career, which is why he investigated other huge crimes, including the Aurora theater shooting.

A look at Tom Acernio through the years.

He officially retired on  June 15 after 32 years with the sheriff’s office, achieving the rank of investigator/master deputy in the criminal investigations division.

I couldn’t believe it when I looked at the display of his various police photos over the years.

“Tom,” I said, “you were effing hot!”

“Lynn,” he replied, “I was effing young!”

I’m still laughing at that remark.

Shortly after their parties I went on vacation. When I told Mike I wouldn’t get the blog done before I left, he told me I didn’t need to write anything.

I did. These are two good guys. They served our state well and they will be missed.