Joe Pelle MCJ '87 | School of Public Affairs Distinguished Alumni AwardApr 11, 2023
Joe grew up in Boulder, Colorado. He received bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in public administration from Metropolitan State University of Denver and a master’s degree in criminal justice from CU Denver. He has 43 years of public safety experience and has served five terms as the elected Sheriff of Boulder County.
Joe led a long and successful career at the Sheriff’s Office and Boulder Police Department, running for sheriff in 2002 and taking office in January 2003. He has led a full-service public safety agency of approximately 450 employees and hundreds of volunteers through 20 years of change and challenges. There have been significant improvements in facilities, staffing, training, and equipment over the course of these years. Natural disasters, including several major fires and a historic flood, have especially challenged the department and the community. Joe is most proud of establishing “Character First” as the working motto and bulwark of the Mission and Vision statement of the Sheriff’s Office.
Joe has been married to his wife, Stephanie, for 43 years and has two grown, married children and four grandchildren. With his decade of loyal service to his community, Joe officially retired in January 2023.