A Colorado cadet is following in the footsteps of fallen Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley after being inspired by the officer’s sacrifice to become a police officer.
Sam Dunbar just graduated from Pikes Peak Regional Law Enforcement Academy, but it was a long road to get to that point.
“The Academy is definitely very vigorous, and it’s a long process,” Dunbar told Fox 21 News. “I mean, we’re here like about 60–70 hours a week, some weeks six days a week. You know, it makes you question your ability and if you’re wanting to do this. But, you know, once you get to the end and you pass the test and you get certified, it’s super rewarding and it’s a pretty crazy feeling for sure.”
According to Dunbar, it was Officer Talley’s story that inspired him to become a police officer. Talley was killed during a mass shooting at a Boulder grocery store in 2021. The officer fearlessly ran into the store and saved many lives before being shot himself.
Dunbar said that on the day of the shooting, he was in the process of finishing real estate school. However, the news of Talley’s sacrifice changed his career path forever.
“I was sitting on my mom’s kitchen counter, and the news was on talking about the shooting,” Dunbar said. “And then Officer Eric Talley, of course, was killed, and it just kind of flipped inside of me. And I had a calling to, I guess, to just change careers and do this because this is what felt right.”
On January 5, Dunbar’s dream came true as he and nine other cadets were welcomed to the law enforcement community, where Dunbar will begin his career working for the Woodland Park Police Department.
“Policing is not an easy job and sometimes it is a thankless profession,” Woodland Park Police Chief Chris Deisler said. “But we know that there are people in the community who … love to see officers in the neighborhoods interacting with them. And whenever you get a group of folks, especially like these folks, who are graduating tonight who want to do this job for the right reasons, that’s a win all the way around.”
Talley’s widow was also in attendance at the event with a small group from the Boulder Police Department to award Dunbar with a challenge coin.
“We’re getting rewarded by our career and that’s something a lot of people, I think, don’t get to say,” Dunbar said.
Deisler hopes that Talley’s legacy will live on through Dunbar.
“In my 31st year of law enforcement, I can tell you I’ve seen plenty of officers’ funerals and they’re never fun; the impacts are deep and far-reaching, and this is never a good time,” Deisler said. “But if we can take someone’s legacy and make it live through the actions of someone else who has that desire and that drive like Sam does, I don’t know how you can call that anything but great.”