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Hero Down: Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office Detention Sgt. Jimmy James Dies Unexpectedly

Salida, CO – Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Detention Sergeant Jimmy Eugene James died unexpectedly on Jan. 18.

The 72-year-old detention deputy passed away at his home, Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze said in a press release the following day.

Sgt. James’ exact cause of death was not released.

The longtime lawman’s career stretched on over 50 years, according to Sheriff Spezze.

Sgt. James originally had dreams of being a game warden after graduating from Salida High School in 1966, but he soon realized he wanted to become a police officer, according to his obituary.

He completed the Trinidad Police Academy and was hired as a dispatcher at the Salida Police Department (SPD).

Sgt. James began serving the SPD as an officer in 1969 and devoted 33 years of his life to the department before retiring as a senior sergeant in 2003, Sheriff Spezze said.

After four years of retirement, Sgt. James hired on at the CCSO as a detention deputy and was later promoted to the rank of sergeant.

“Jim did everything with passion,” his obituary read. “He truly enjoyed law enforcement and serving the Salida Community.”

Sheriff Spezze said Sgt. James was “a major part of the sheriff’s office” family.

“We are truly saddened at Jimmy’s passing,” the sheriff wrote. “There are very few people in Salida that did not know Jimmy James and if you were lucky enough to know him his passing has surely darkened your [day.]”

Sgt. James leaves behind his wife of 51 years, Shirley, his three daughters, and his five grandchildren, according to his obituary.

He was laid to rest on Jan. 24.

“We once again want to offer our heartfelt condolences to the James family and those affected by his passing,” Sheriff Spezze said. “We will miss our friend and colleague!!!!”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office Detention Sergeant Jimmy Eugene James, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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