9/11 Ushers In New Emergency Chief

If your first emergency management director pick turns out to unexpectedly “go in a different direction,” try, try again.

It was a fitting day – Sept. 11 – for Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter to name a director of the state Division of Emergency Management. Beginning Oct. 1, Hans Kallam will be in charge when disasters strike. Whether it be flooding, tornadoes, wildfires, accidents involving hazardous materials or acts of terrorism, Kallam will coordinate what is referred to as the four phases of emergency management: preparedness, prevention, response and recovery.

Kallam is not Ritter’s first choice for the job. In July, the governor withdrew an offer to Chris Olson, the former director of safety services for Englewood, after the Denver Post noted that Olson had received a vote of no-confidence in 2005 and was also responsible for a case involving the firing of a female officer that led to the city paying out a settlement for sexual discrimination.

There’s more.According to a statement by the governor’s office, Kallam has served since 2001 as director of operations for the adjutant general of the Colorado National Guard. Prior to that, he served as a National Guard commander, providing leadership, management and supervision of a command-and-control headquarters for a variety of operations throughout the state.

On Sept. 11, Ritter was quoted by his office saying this about his new emergency operations chief:

“Hans Kallam’s background with the National Guard and his other professional experiences give him an ideal skill set to lead our state’s Division of Emergency Management,” Gov. Ritter said. “He brings solid experiences that will benefit our state’s preparedness and response efforts.”

Notably, there’s not a lot of difference between that and what Ritter initially had to say about his first pick – Olson – back on July 3:

“Chris Olson’s commitment to emergency management, his longtime experience in public safety and service to the community, make him an excellent choice for leading the Division of Emergency Management,” Gov. Ritter said. “I believe his background will help elevate the critical and valuable work this division provides to our state.”

Better luck the second time around.

Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential and a columnist and contributing editor at the Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at cdegette@coloradoconfidential.com