DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – A CBS4 investigation has learned that former Arapahoe County Sheriff Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. has been arrested, suspected of trafficking methamphetamine, a controlled substance.
Sullivan, 68, was the elected Arapahoe County Sheriff for 19 years. He retired in 2002 and went on to become director of safety and security for Cherry Creek Schools. He was a nationally-regarded law enforcement figure and in 2001 as the National Sheriff Association named Sullivan “Sheriff of the Year.”
The investigation that led to Sullivan’s arrest began in mid-November, according to contacts familiar with the case. They say several informants provided information to law enforcement connecting Sullivan to the distribution and use of methamphetamine.
As part of the investigation authorities say Sullivan agreed to meet a male informant and provide the man drugs in exchange for sex. That’s when Investigators and members of the South Metro Drug Task Force arrested Sullivan. The former sheriff is being held on $250,000 bond as of Tuesday evening.
Contacted by CBS4, the current Arapahoe County sheriff, Grayson Robinson, said, “The allegations of criminal behavior involving Pat Sullivan are extraordinarily disturbing. While the arrest of the former sheriff is very troubling, no one, and particularly a former peace officer, is above the law. This is the most shocking thing I’ve ever been involved with.”
Ironically, Sullivan will be jailed in the Arapahoe County Jail, which was named for the legendary sheriff — The Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility.
“This is a very sad time for the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office and our community,” Robinson said.
Robinson said Sullivan will likely be charged with a felony count drug count and said he anticipates additional criminal charges against Sullivan and other suspects.
CBS4 has also learned that in the last several years Sullivan posted bond numerous times for suspects in drug cases who were being held at various jail facilities. According to public records, in 2007 and 2008 Sullivan was an active participant in state and local methamphetamine task forces, helping craft a state plan to deal with the scourge of methamphetamine.
Sullivan was a revered figure in law enforcement. When he retired the Rocky Mountain News called him “Dedicated. Loyal. Available. Protector. High Achiever. Medal of Valor Winner. Hero.”
The National Association of School Resource Officers gave Sullivan a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. At the time the executive director of NASRO, Curtis Lavarello, said of Sullivan, “You are not only committed to the SRO concept, but have truly spent your entire career making every effort to keep children safe.”
Sullivan served in law enforcement for 40 years, beginning in 1962 as a Littleton police officer and dispatcher. He joined the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office in 1979 as a captain and patrol division commander. He was named undersheriff in 1983 and appointed to the top job 6 months later.
Sullivan testified before congressional subcommittees on several occasions, weighing in on various law enforcement issues.
President Bill Clinton named Sullivan in 1995 to the National Commission on Crime Prevention and Control. According to a 1995 White House news release, Sullivan was a consultant to U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime and served on two advisory councils affiliated with the Department of Justice.