Ann Arbor police chief to transfer to Colorado ski town
After 25 years with the Ann Arbor Police Department — the last two as the head of the department — Police Chief Jim Baird will be relocating to Breckenridge, Colo., according to the Summit Daily of Summit County, Colo. Howard Lazarus, Ann Arbor city administrator announced Baird’s retirement from the AAPD Tuesday at the City Council meeting, though not where he would be relocating.
“I will leave it up to him to share as he deems appropriate what life’s next great adventure is, but we will be preparing for an orderly turnover and transition,” Lazarus said. “We all wish the chief well as he chases what lies around the curb and the trail.”
Baird, who currently lives in Stockbridge, will officially step down on March 24, at which point Robert Pfannes, AAPD deputy police chief, will take over as interim chief. Baird will begin the job in Breckenridge on April 23.
Breckenridge, a town known for its ski resorts, has a population of approximately 5,000, much smaller than Ann Arbor’s population of about 120,000. However, due to the town’s large tourism industry, thousands more can flow in on short notice –– circumstances Baird compared to football games at the University of Michigan.
“From what I’m hearing, on Breckenridge's busiest days, the town will swell up to 30,000 people,” Baird told the Summit Daily. “For a home game, the University of Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor holds over three times that. So that difference in scale will be significant.”
Baird’s departure comes as the city is considering the creation of a police review board that would review and potentially investigate complaints against the department. In a 2016 memo to City Council, Baird said he would oppose implementation of such a board unless it was recommended by a third-party audit of the AAPD. In February 2017, the city hired the Chicago-based security firm, Hillard Heintze to conduct such an audit, though residents have been highly critical of the firm’s methods and its members’ long careers with law enforcement agencies.
Baird could not be reached for comment at the time of this publication.