Colorado Rangers

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Colorado Rangers Law Enforcement Shared Reserve
Colorado Rangers Badge.jpg
Ranger Badge
Common name Colorado Rangers
Abbreviation CLER
Motto Serving & Protecting Colorado Since 1861
Agency overview
Formed 1861
Preceding agencies
Volunteers Yes
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction Colorado, USA
Map of Colorado.svg
Map of Colorado
Size 104,185 square miles (269,840 km2)
Population 5,456,574 (2015 est.)[1]
Legal jurisdiction As per operations jurisdiction
General nature
Headquarters 330 Park Ave, Fort Lupton, CO 80621
Rangers 100+
Agency executive
  • Colonel Ronald M Abramson, Chief
Parent agency Town of Dillon, Town of Elizabeth, City of Fort Lupton, City of Fountain, City of Idaho Springs, Town of Monument, Town of Nederland
  • Edward P. Bell, Ranger, for being the only ranger to be killed in the line of duty.
Significant operation(s)
  • Law Enforcement Agency

The Colorado Rangers Law Enforcement Shared Reserve (also known as the “Colorado Rangers” or "CLER") is an all-volunteer law enforcement agency providing state certified reserve peace officers to assist local law enforcement agencies upon their request. It is the successor agency to the Colorado Mounted Rangers, the latter still existing as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The Rangers are the oldest statewide law enforcement organization in Colorado, originally organized in 1861 by the Colorado Territory.

Early history

The Rangers trace their roots to the Jefferson Rangers, keeping the peace in the unofficial Jefferson Territory during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush.[2]

When the Colorado Territory was established in 1861, they were reorganized as the Colorado Rangers, continuing to serve as Colorado's only statewide law enforcement agency through the 1920s. The Colorado Rangers were fashioned after the well known Texas Rangers and served as both law enforcement and state militia.[2]

Marker at Glorietta Pass

The Colorado Rangers often fought on horseback with repeating revolvers and were instrumental in the Battle of Glorieta Pass, helping to stop the Confederate advance towards the Colorado gold fields. This battle has become known as the "Gettysburg of the West" for its importance to the Union victory.[2]

After the Civil War, the Colorado Rangers returned to their law enforcement duties. From time to time the Rangers were also called upon by Colorado's governors to keep the peace during times of civil unrest, natural disasters, and during disputes such as the violent Labor Wars in Colorado's mining towns.[2] The Rangers were also present at the Columbine mine massacre in 1927. The Rangers were accused of firing machine guns into the crowds of miners during the shooting, which was disputed by the Rangers.

Rangers were also utilized by Denver District Attorney Philip Van Cise to break up organized crime and corruption in Denver's City Hall in the early 1920s.[2]

In 1922 Van Cise set up an independent investigation of the Blonger gang, secretly funded by a group of wealthy Denver citizens. On August 24 of that year, Van Cise used a special force of Colorado Rangers to capture 33 suspects in a single day. Fearing that the Denver Police would tip off the gang once the first suspect was taken to jail, Van Cise detained the gang members in the basement of the First Universalist Church, where he was a member, until the sweep was complete. In Colorado's longest and most expensive trial to that time, 20 con men, including Lou Blonger, was convicted and sent to prison, effectively busting the "Million-Dollar Bunco Ring."[3]

As a result of a campaign promise to organized labor and other interests, Governor William E. Sweet signed an executive order on January 29, 1923, cutting off funding to the Rangers.[2] The Colorado Rangers were officially disbanded by the Colorado General Assembly on April 1, 1927.[4] This left Colorado without statewide police protection until 1935 when the Colorado State Highway Courtesy Patrol (later becoming the Colorado State Patrol) was formed. The Colorado State Patrol was formed to enforce traffic laws on state highways, not as a criminal law enforcement agency.[5]


1941 reorganization

Governor Teller Ammons re-organized the Colorado Rangers as the Colorado Mounted Rangers, an all volunteer law enforcement organization. On February 21, 1941, they were formally incorporated with a single Troop of 50 Rangers headquartered in Bailey.[2]

1955 reorganization

In 1955 with a growing role in civil defense and under the guidance of Teller County Sheriff Rufus Jones, the Colorado Mounted Rangers expanded the organization forming a squadron of Troops located throughout the state. Troops partnered with local Law Enforcement agencies in their area to provide them with additional peace officers when needed.[2]

Colorado Mounted Ranger on duty

2017 reorganization

In 2017, the Colorado Mounted Rangers began to transition their membership back into service as a governmental law enforcement agency.[6] A number of municipal law enforcement agencies from around Colorado's front range established the Colorado Rangers Law Enforcement Shared Reserve (abbreviated as "CLER" and officially still known as the "Colorado Rangers") by intergovernmental agreement to provide reserve peace officers certified by Colorado P.O.S.T. to carry on the law enforcement support role of the Colorado Mounted Rangers.[7] As a result of this transition, the Colorado Mounted Rangers ceased their operational law enforcement auxiliary functions on July 15, 2018. The Colorado Mounted Rangers continue to exist as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.[8]

Present day

The Colorado Rangers continue their historical mission to provide local law enforcement agencies with trained and experienced personnel when needed. All members of CLER serve as unpaid volunteers, and must supply most of their own equipment and uniforms. As a consequence, CLER is able to provide its services with little financial obligation for requesting agencies. CLER activities include assisting with special events, responding to local emergencies, and providing patrol services when full-time personnel are unavailable.

CLER currently has mutual aid agreements with 58 local law enforcement and other government agencies throughout Colorado.[9] These agencies are often located in rural areas where maintaining a local reserve program would be difficult and expensive.

Reserve academy

The Colorado Rangers operate their own grant funded reserve law enforcement academy, approved by the Colorado Peace Officer Standards and Training Board.[10][9] The Police Academy has already graduated eight classes since its inauguration in 2018. The 2020 class is scheduled to graduate 50+ new POST certified rangers.[9]

See also


  1. ^ 2007 Population Estimates
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h McClure, Carleton E. (1982). History of the Colorado Mounted Rangers. Colorado Springs: Minute Man Press.
  3. ^ "About Col. Philip S. Van Cise". Blonger Bros.
  4. ^ "Colorado Rangers, Abolishment" (PDF). William A. Wise Law Library. 1 April 1927. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  5. ^ "Highway Patrol, Created and Established" (PDF). William A. Wise Law Library. 10 April 1935. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  6. ^ "Approval of Intergovernmental Agreement with the Colorado Rangers Shared Reserve". City of Fort Lupton Colorado. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Local Government Filings". Colorado Department of Local Affairs. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Summary". Colorado Secretary of State. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  9. ^ a b c "Colorado Rangers Law Enforcement Shared Reserve". Colorado Rangers. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Reserve Academy". Colorado POST. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  • Van Cise, Philip S. Fighting the Underworld. (Cambridge, Mass.: The Riverside Press, 1936)
  • McClure, Carleton E. History of the Colorado Mounted Rangers. (Colorado Springs: Minute Man Press, 1982)

External links

  • Colorado Rangers Website
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