Colorado Fire Chief Charged With Impersonating a Police Officer

Fire Chief William Nelson of the Hygiene Fire Protection District was suspended after he was arrested and charged with impersonating a police officer, driving under the influence, marijuana possession, and a firearm violation following his attempt to use his red lights to pull over a car driven by a 21 year old woman. The incident took place last Saturday, July 9, 2011 at about 10:30 pm.

Chief Nelson, 57, was arrested after Kayla West called police to report that her red Mustang was being followed by a pickup truck displaying red flashing lights, and trying to pull her over. West told police that she kept driving because she knew police did not have vehicles with only red flashing lights.

Police intercepted Nelson’s car and found that Nelson smelled of alcohol, his speech was slurred, and his eyes were bloodshot.  Nelson claimed he was following a drunk driver and agreed to pull in behind the deputy only after West’s car stopped. Nelson refused to submit to a field sobriety test, but later consented to a blood test. Nelson’s truck was impounded after police found 5 grams of marijuana along with a loaded .40-caliber handgun in the center console, and a loaded .22-caliber rifle slung between the two front seats.

Nelson was suspended by the fire district from his position as chief pending further investigation. Nelson is reported to have had a previous DUI arrest in 1996.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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