After almost four decades of serving Cortez as police chief, Roy Lane is at rest.
About 300 people attended a memorial service Saturday at the Cortez Recreation Center to honor the chief, who died Dec. 20 at the age of 75 after treatments for a chronic illness.
His children, chaplain and fellow police officers spoke at the ceremony, sharing memories of Lane’s honor, integrity, loyalty and love for his family.
“He was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of man,” said his daughter Katie Brito.
Lane was Cortez police chief for nearly 39 years and was the longest-serving chief in Colorado. He had been a law enforcement officer for 54 years, said Lt. Andy Brock, who worked with him for 24 years.
Lane was known for his community outreach and for supporting local charitable organizations. He served on boards for The Bridge shelter, Hospice and Renew Inc., and was a bell ringer for Salvation Army.
He also dealt with a variety of high-profile cases that received national attention, including bank robberies, murders and drug trafficking. He led the investigation into the murder of Dale Claxton in 1998 and investigated the death of Fred Martinez, a Navajo student at Montezuma-Cortez High School who was murdered in 2001.
In honor of Lane’s service and his advocacy for rehabilitation, the Cortez City Council in December voted to rename the municipal courtroom at City Hall the Roy Lane Courtroom.
“Even though his primary responsibility was leading the fine people in our police department, he also played a very important role in moving our community forward in a lot of other ways, too,” Cortez Mayor Karen Sheek said.
Community members and law enforcement officials from across the region crowded into the rec center, filing into chairs across the basketball court. Flowers sprouted on the track above the floor and on the sides of a podium up front.
The ceremony was marked by tradition and included a rifle salute and flag presentation. Country music played as visitors entered, and a photo slideshow beamed from a big screen.
Speakers recalled Lane as an honorable and loyal man with great love for his family.
Cortez Police Chaplain Dave Guy spoke of his faith, compassion and humor, and of “giants” he faced, including cancer.
“He held people accountable, but it was always towards the end of them being a better person,” Guy said.
Lane found his purpose in Cortez, and served it wholeheartedly, Guy said.
Lt. Andy Brock, interim police chief, traced Lane’s path through the ranks, starting as a deputy in Winslow, Arizona, a police chief in Holbrook, Arizona, and finally as police chief in Cortez. Gov. Jared Polis issued an official proclamation, one of many accolades Lane received over the years, including the Pat Steele Award from the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police in 2016.
In addition to his police work, Lane was dedicated to the community, Brock said, pointing to his nonprofit work and support of sports teams.
“He quietly served others,” Brock said.
Lane’s children shared personal stories of Roy Lane the father and role model, and the pride he took in his children and grandchildren. They also shared his love for the Chicago Cubs, Ford trucks and country music.
He would proudly showcase his grandchildren’s artwork, shared their accomplishments with fellow officers and always attended important events, no matter the distance, they said.
“He was my person, my foundation, my peace,” Brito said. “I loved him so much. He was the absolute best dad.”
The ceremony concluded with Lane’s last police call, aired over dispatch and played at the gym.
“This is the last call for C1, Cortez Police Chief Roy C. Lane,” it stated. “Chief Roy C. Lane is out of service after 54 years of dedicated police service. Although you are gone, you will never be forgotten.”
After the service, attendees shared fond memories of Lane.
“We really relied on his immense knowledge,” said Durango Police Chief Bob Brammer. “He was in law enforcement longer than many of us have been alive, and he shared that experience with us. It helped us improve our department. What stood out for me was his professionalism.”
“Roy was really a solid guy, a lot of us worked with him since he arrived here in 1981,” said Cortez Fire Department Chief Jay Balfour. “He left a positive impression and worked with people to solve problems. Away from the job, we would enjoy watching the kids and grandkids play sports.”
“He was a staple of our community. He understood the importance of training and improving communication (systems) that all the different departments rely on,” added Mancos Fire Chief Tony Aspromonte.
It was comforting to have Lane in the meeting, recalled former Cortez city manager Shane Hale.
“When things got contentious, he would exert a calm that others would follow. He led by example,” he said. “I learned a lot from Roy about police departments. He was a good friend, and I kept in touch with him regularly. He will be missed.”
Many recalled Lane’s reliable work ethic, and “glass is half-full” attitude.
“He was easy to work with, and we all really appreciate all he has done. What I noticed is how he worked with people in a positive way,” said Montezuma County Commissioner Jim Candelaria. “It’s a great loss.”
Cortez Councilman Mike Lavey remembers Lane as being everywhere in the 30 years he knew him – on the job, at high school and youth games, at meetings, promoting good causes, and finding the humor in situations when the time was right.
“He was an inspiration to me, to us all,” Lavey said. “He would find the best in people, which probably can be a challenge at times working as a policeman.
“What I saw is that he could relate to all different kinds of people. He had this helpful, kind way about him. It was impressive his efforts to help the homeless.”