Colorado Mounted Rangers

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Colorado Mounted Rangers
Common name Colorado Rangers
Abbreviation CMR
CMR Logo Patch.png
Shoulder Patch
CMR badge.jpg
Ranger Badge
Motto Protecting and Serving Colorado Since 1861
Agency overview
Formed 1861
Preceding agency Jefferson Rangers (1859-1861)
Volunteers Yes
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* State of 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
Operational structure
Rangers ~200
Cadets ~15
Agency executive Colonel Ronald M Abramson, State Commander
Parent agency Colorado Department of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Person Edward P. Bell, Ranger, for being the only ranger to be killed in the line of duty.
Significant operation Law Enforcement Auxiliary
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Colorado Mounted Rangers, also historically known as the Colorado Rangers, are a statutory state law enforcement auxiliary that assists law enforcement and other first responder agencies across Colorado.

Rangers annually provide more than 50,000 volunteer hours to the State of Colorado supporting local police and sheriffs departments by providing additional Peace Officer resources in times of need. Rangers are unpaid and the Auxiliary is not funded by tax dollars. The Rangers are the oldest statewide law enforcement organization in Colorado, originally organized in 1861 by the Colorado Territory.


Captain's badge – c. 1920s

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

In 1861, as the Colorado Territory was established, they were reorganized as the Colorado Rangers continued 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.

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.

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. The Rangers where also responsible for the Columbine mine massacre in 1927. The rangers where accused of firing machine guns into the crowds of miners during the shooting, however the rangers disputed that.

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.

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 trail to that time, 20 con men, including Lou Blonger, were convicted and sent to prison, effectively busting the "Million-Dollar Bunco Ring."[2]

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 and effectively disbanding the Rangers. This left Colorado without statewide police protection until 1935 when the Colorado State Highway Courtesy Patrol (later becoming the Colorado State Patrol) was formed.


Ranger on duty providing additional Peace Officer support for a local Police Department

While serving as 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.

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 partner with local Law Enforcement agencies in their area to provide them with additional peace officers when needed.

To this day, Rangers serve as auxiliary Peace Officers to any agency that requests their assistance.

Law Enforcement Auxiliary per C.R.S § 24-33.5-822[edit]

Rangers working alongside local Police Department

In 2012, thanks to a non-partisan effort by the Colorado General Assembly, Governor John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 12-072 (Link) into law, formally recognizing the Ranger's role as a Law Enforcement Auxiliary in the Colorado State Statutes.

"Therefore, the general assembly declares that the Colorado Mounted Rangers should be established as an all-volunteer, unpaid auxiliary unit for the purpose of lending assistance enforcement agencies in the state." [3]

Section 24-32-2222 in Senate Bill 12-072 was then harmonized with House Bill 12-1283 and relocated to section 24-33.5-822 placing the Rangers under the Department of Public Safety in 24-33.5 C.R.S.

While the Rangers had been operating under formal Memorandum of Understandings (MOU's) with agencies across the State, this legislation formalized the Colorado Mounted Rangers role as the State Law Enforcement Auxiliary and clarified it in the Colorado Revised Statutes.

The Colorado Mounted Rangers currently have MOU's filed with the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management [4] partnering with dozens of law enforcement and other government agencies including State, County and local agencies.

Law Enforcement agencies across Colorado are increasingly dependent on Rangers serving as their reserve officers when needed.

Supported Agencies[edit]

Ranger assists with Air Life Helicopter.

Rangers have an operational Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with each of the following Law Enforcement, OEM, Fire Agencies and Government entities:

- Auraria Police (University of Denver / Metro State University / Community College of Denver)
- Community College of Aurora

- Adams County SO
- Archuleta County SO
- Crowley County SO
- Douglas County SO
- Eagle County SO
- Fremont County SO
- Gilpin County SO
- Kiowa County SO
- La Plata County SO


Rangers assisting at an accident scene.

- Aguilar Marshal

- Ault PD
- Commerce City PD
- Dacono PD
- Dillon PD
- Durango PD
- Elizabeth PD
- Empire PD
- Evans PD
- Fairplay PD
- Firestone PD
- Florence PD
- Fort Lupton PD
- Fowler PD
- Frederick PD
- Fountain PD
- Georgetown PD
- Glendale PD
- Greeley PD
- Haxtun PD
- Idaho Springs PD
- Johnstown PD
- Kiowa PD
- LaSalle PD
- Manitou Springs PD
- Milliken PD
- Nederland PD
- Oak Creek PD
- Rocky Ford PD
- Salida PD
- Vail PD
- Windsor PD
- Woodland Park PD


- Adams County OEM
- Teller County

- Bayfield
- Dillon
- Elizabeth
- Green Mountain Falls
- Monument
- Ordway
- Palmer Lake
- Ramah


- Canon City Area FPD

Rangers regularly provide additional personnel to these agencies when requested and act as Peace Officers under their Memorandum of Understanding agreements. Rangers acting under the MOU are under the direction and supervision of the Law Enforcement Agency they are supporting.[5]


Ranger Honor Guard standing watch at the Colorado Law Enforcement Memorial on the grounds of the Colorado State Patrol Academy

In 1999, fallen Ranger Edward P. Bell's name was enshrined on the Colorado Law Enforcement Memorial which is located on the grounds of the Colorado State Patrol Academy in Golden, Colorado. Ranger Bell is the only Ranger in the over 150-year history of the Rangers to have been killed in the line of duty.[6][7]

In 2001, the Colorado General Assembly's House of Representatives passed House Resolution 01-1009 to recognize and honor the Colorado Mounted Rangers service to the Citizens of Colorado since the days of the Colorado Territory.

In 2002, the Colorado State Senate passed Senate Resolution 02-008 that recognized the long-standing tradition of honorable service that the Colorado Mounted Rangers have provided since 1861.

In 2004, Governor Bill Owens declared Feb. 21, 2004, "Colorado Mounted Ranger Day" honoring Rangers continuing contributions. Governor Owens also acknowledged the Rangers one time role as the "Governor's Guard".

In 2011, fallen Ranger Edward P. Bell's name was enshrined at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. during National Police Week. Rangers made the journey to Washington D.C. to participate in the ceremonies honoring fallen officers from across the United States.[8]

In 2011, United States Senator Michael Bennet recognized the Rangers 150 years of service to the citizens of Colorado. Senator Bennett thanked the Rangers for answering the call to public service.

See also[edit]


  • Van Cise, Philip S. Fighting the Underworld. (Cambridge, Mass.: The Riverside Press, 1936)
  • McClure, Carleton E. History of the Colorado Mounted Rangers. (Minute Man Press, 1982)

External links[edit]

Official Website - Colorado Mounted Rangers

Facebook - Colorado Rangers Facebook Page

Twitter - Colorado Rangers Twitter

Other links[edit]

  • [1] Denver Post, Oct. 1, 2000 - Rangers still serving State
  • [2] Nov 2002 article in Police Magazine - Living Law Enforcement History