DENVER - "I'm Grayson Robinson and I am honored and blessed to serve as your sheriff."
Arapahoe County sheriff Grayson Robinson always spoke from the heart and made it a point to begin many of his public appearances with those words. Today he said farewell to the office he so passionately served.
CALL7 reporter Theresa Marchetta had the opportunity to sit down with Robinson during his last week of service. He reflected on his 42 years serving in Colorado's law enforcement, most recently as Arapahoe County sheriff.
"I've said to you and I've said to several other people, 'This 42-plus years has been a wonderful adventure.'"
Robinson has been a reassuring presence, guiding victims and the community through some of the most horrific events in Colorado's history. He had a unique role in the in the formation of the city of Centennial, but it is his exceptional staff, who he calls family, that has been one of his greatest sources of pride.
Robinson leaves his term as sheriff eleven months early, but it was not a rushed decision.
"His retirement is completely voluntary. I think, putting the community first, he thought, 'I'm going to make the transition easy.' Any leader that can surround himself with men and women who are well-qualified and able to pick up the mantel when he leaves; I think that the mark of a great leader," said Arapahoe County District Attorney and friend, George Brauchler.
In order to ensure a seamless transition, Robinson began preparing four years ago when he started to recruit David Walcher as his replacement. Robinson formally announced his early retirement on Dec. 12, 2013, but there was no way of anticipating what would follow. The next day was the tragic Arapahoe high school shooting.
"The timing between the day that I formally announced my retirement from the sheriff's office being the day before the tragedies at Arapahoe, for me they weren't relevant," Robinson said. "I still had and still have responsibilities to the communities I serve."
It is ironic, but as Robinson said, it was irrelevant to his obligation to the community. Marchetta asked him how he processes an event like the Arapahoe high school shooting.
"I'm a human being, and I have emotions. I experience them, but I experience them privately," said Robinson. "I'm a fairly private person, and I think that's important for the role I have been given."
His role was critical in the moments and hours that followed on Dec. 13. As he did so many times before, he served with poise, determination and compassion. He reassured terrified families, while keeping the media and public informed.
During his years in law enforcement he faced many difficult challenges, but he said "The biggest sadness that I've had in more than 42 years is the responsibility to be involved, on a consistent basis, with the victimization of the innocent. That for me is the biggest sadness I always hold, personally and professionally and will never leave me for the remainder of my days."
His actions have endeared him to the community, and earned him the respect of his peers in Colorado and across the country. Two familiar cases, symbolizing the hundreds and hundreds of innocent victims who have impacted Robinson deeply are that of Andrew Graham and Claire Davis. Twenty-three year old Graham was shot to death in the front yard of a Centennial home in November 2009, but a grand jury failed to charge anyone in his death.
"I had the great opportunity to know and I do continue to know Mrs. Graham and the Graham family. I'm a better person because I know them, but I wish I never met them," said Robinson.
When Robinson knew he would be announcing his early retirement he called Andrew Graham's mom Cyndi to let her know his plans. He even arranged a meeting to introduce her to the incoming sheriff.
Cyndi Graham told Marchetta, "I kinda went blank, my stomach dropped and then I started to tear-up. I hadn't realized just how really attached I'd gotten to him, and how much I'd come to depend on him."
"I absolutely wish that I had never met them at all, for obvious reasons," said Robinson. "The same with Claire Davis and the Davis family. I had the opportunity and the honor to meet Claire shortly after the shooting, and I've had the opportunity to be engaged with the Davis family. And exactly like the Graham family, they are people who have made me a better person. I prayed and I wished that I never met them."
Marchetta remembered one the toughest stories she and Robinson worked on together was that of Patrick Sullivan. Sullivan was caught in a sex-for-meth scandal. The scandal forced Robinson to arrest a friend and his predecessor. He remembered that it was a sad and difficult time for him, but was proud that his office did what was right.
Doing what's right for Robinson means being true to himself, even when he's wading in politically charged waters. He is a Republican, but has been told by Republican Party he's not a very good one. It's something he takes as a very significant source of pride.
"I am extraordinarily frustrated and disappointed in partisan politics," he said. "I prefer that people in public service roles be public servants and serve the community, not so much the partisanship. I am frustrated and disgusted with partisan politics."
Robinson has even endorsed Democrats in the past, and made waves when he refused to fall in line with other Republican sheriffs who pledged not to enforce Colorado's new gun laws.
Colorado was a battleground for both political parties during the last presidential election causing both President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney to visit the state. The Arapahoe County sheriff's office provided security to both candidates during their visits, and sent each of their campaigns bills for thousands of dollars.
It made national headlines, but Robinson said, "I did that not because I was trying to get a spotlight or trying to make any kind of political comment."
Instead, he simply did not think taxpayers should be responsible the security expenses of the campaigns, especially when those campaigns are able to spend millions of dollars on attack ads.
On Feb. 1, the Type A, meticulous planner and critical thinker will be entering uncharted territory. It will be his first day of retirement. As he leaves the role of sheriff he vows to continue using his training, passion and experience to reform public policy.
He told Marchetta that will not include running for elected office, rather it "may be in a position to influence those in elected office."
"My voice will be heard," Robinson said. "It may not be heard by a large number of people, but I will not allow my passions or my perspectives to go quiet."
However, Robinson will take a little time for himself.
"I've given myself permission to take about two months of time to reflect on my life."
Robinson has been the kind of leader who takes ownership of mistakes and strives to maintain transparency in government. He is revered not only by his community, but also by his peers in public service. He has been selected by his colleagues to serve as the 2014 chairman of the International Commission on Law Enforcement Accreditation. Robinson is also looking forward to spending more time with his beautiful granddaughters, and continuing to work on remodeling projects with his brother.
It is only fitting Robinson ends his term in gratitude to his community.
"I have been honored and I have been blessed to serve as your sheriff," he said. "Thank you for giving me that opportunity."