Police Cmdr. Pat Rigdon had to look at the date on his watch Monday to remember that he’s been at the helm of the Gold Hill Division in southwest Colorado Springs for a year.
But a group of west-side residents and business owners who have been working to make Colorado Avenue west of 31st Street a better place to live and do business didn’t forget.
The Avenue Task Force surprised Ridgon with carrot cake, homemade cookies and lots of gratitude for a job well done on the eve of his one-year anniversary.
“We’ve still got a long ways to go, but I’d hate to think what it would be like if you weren’t here right now,” Welling Clark, president of the Organization of Westside Neighbors, told Rigdon. “You’re a game changer. We really, really appreciate it.”
Rigdon, a Springs native who has worked for the Colorado Springs Police Department 17 ½ years, said he knew something was up when his wife of nearly 20 years, Kristy, walked into the task force’s monthly meeting.
“Thank you all very much. This is quite a treat,” he said. “I know I’ve said this before, but I really do think of you guys as friends more than anything. I’m happy to do anything I can to help you.”
In addition to a cake topped with a miniature police car and the picture of a policeman yelling “Halt!” and holding a club, the task force gave Rigdon a $5 gift card to Dunkin’ Donuts, which evoked a big smile from Rigdon.
“That was Cary’s idea,” Clark said, referring to pizza shop owner Cary Leider Vogrin.
Vogrin, who used to work for The Gazette, said Rigdon is responsive to business and citizen concerns.
“We can be a pretty demanding group over on the west-side, and Cmdr. Rigdon has certainly listened to our concerns,” she said. “Thanks to him, we now have a dedicated patrol of two great officers for the area, and that has been huge in deterring crime.”
Deputy Chief Mark Smith, who attended the surprise ceremony along with another deputy chief, Vince Niski, said working with Rigdon is an “absolute pleasure.”
“Pat, thanks for what you do,” Smith told Rigdon. “You do it very, very well, and we all sincerely appreciate it.”
Clark said police Chief Pete Carey wanted to attend but was tied up at the City Council meeting.
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