Steamboat Springs, CO – Steamboat Springs Police Department (SSPD) Sergeant Jeff Wilson died on April 3, following a nine-month cancer battle.
Sgt. Wilson was also a longtime volunteer firefighter with the North Routt Fire Recue, the department said in a Facebook post.
The 44-year-old sergeant wrote about his devastating diagnosis on a fundraising page established to help him and his family throughout his treatment.
Sgt. Wilson said that he initially went to the emergency room in mid-July, 2019, for what he believed were “effects from previous concussions.”
“Come to find out, it was not trauma related, but lung and brain cancer,” he wrote. “I have cancer… These are three words that I hoped we never had to say.”
Sgt. Wilson faced his cancer battle with determination and an admirable stubbornness.
“Cancer, you have me to deal with. This is my body and life,” he wrote in an update. “Enjoy your ride. Hang on as long as you think you need to, but you picked the wrong person, family, and team to mess with!”
Less than a week after his diagnosis, Sgt. Wilson was back at work, the Steamboat Pilot & Today reported.
“This is just a little bump in the way of what I need to do in life, because I still have a family to raise, a wife to love and a career to finish,” he said at the time.
The 21-year law enforcement veteran passed away at his home on April 3, according to the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
The City of Steamboat Springs announced his death in a Facebook post the follow day.
“Our hearts are with his family, his fellow officers in the police department and all who were fortunate to have had Jeff in their lives,” the post read. “This evening, take a moment to remember individuals like Sergeant Wilson, who give selflessly to our community to make it a better and more positive place for all of us.”
Steamboat Springs Police Chief Cory Christensen said that Sgt. Wilson’s determination was an inspiration to everyone who knew him.
“He faced this with courage, which is the kind of person he is, you know, smiling, upbeat and positive,” Chief Christensen told the Steamboat Pilot & Today. “I think his courage was an example for us all.”
SSPD Administrative Commander Jerry Stabile said that Sgt. Wilson was the most dedicated law enforcement officer he has ever known.
“He poured his heart and soul into everything that was assigned to him. He ran a field training program for new officers for quite a while, and he excelled at that,” Commander Stabile told the Steamboat Pilot & Today. “He had an unbelievable impact in a relatively short career with us that rivals anybody that has ever passed through the doors.”
Sgt. Wilson’s law enforcement career began in October of 1998, when he joined the Hutchinson Police Department (HPD) in Kansas.
He remained at HPD for 10 years.
In November of 2011, Sgt. Wilson relocated to Steamboat Springs and was hired as a patrol officer.
He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2013, and became the SSPD’s first-ever detective sergeant in 2018, according to the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
In addition to his duties at the SSPD, Sgt. Wilson also served as a volunteer North Routt Fire Protection District firefighter.
Fire Chief Mike Swinsick said he could always count on Sgt. Wilson to lend a hand.
“Whenever the pager went off in the evening or at night or on weekends and he wasn’t at the police department, he would respond,” Chief Swinsick told the Steamboat Pilot & Today. “He was always a good hand and would jump in and help.”
Sgt. Wilson leaves behind his wife, Michelle, his daughter, Tarah, and his 11-year-old son, Cannon.
“He just wanted to change things and change it for the best,” said Tara, an emergency medical technician at the Yampa Valley Medical Center.
“He was good at being [a leader at the SSPD], and I think that department will be forever changed with all the new things he implemented,” she added.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Steamboat Spring Police Department Sergeant Jeff Wilson, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.