Former Leicestershire Chief Commissioner Simon Cole was found dead today at his home in Kibworth Harcourt, just 12 days after he retired. Mr Cole’s death was confirmed in a statement tonight by Leicestershire Police, sparking a wave of tributes from friends and former colleagues.
Cole, whose policing career spanned more than 30 years, has headed Leicestershire Police since 2010. His death, aged 55, has been referred to the coroner, police said, who described him as a “beloved and highly respected” man.
After becoming chief in 2010, Mr Cole had a major impact on many of the communities in Leicestershire and Rutland as he took responsibility for the safety of the people in the county he grew up in. Police confirmed his death in a statement tonight. : “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of Simon’s family and friends during this difficult time.
READ MORE:Tributes are pouring in for former chief of police Simon Cole after passing away at 55 – updates
Temporary Chief Constable Rob Nixon said: “It is hard to put into words how devastating this news is for the entire force that Simon loved and respected. Our hearts go out to his family during this difficult time and we will support them as much as possible.
“We want to respect their privacy and the coroner’s trial and would ask the public and the media to do the same. We provide support to our employees and those who have worked closely with Simon.
“I know Simon has had a great impact on many of the communities of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and his death will be a great loss to many of the people he has worked with. All we can do is work together and mourn the loss of a very respected man.”
Mr Cole spoke to LeicestershireLive last month when he retired. During the interview, he reflected on a policing career that was almost over before it even started — when the force he would lead for 12 years initially rejected his application on health grounds. Fresh out of college, he was told he couldn’t join his home team because he had some form of color blindness.
Other troops had the same rule but the West Midlands Police Force did not and Mr Cole, an English graduate, began his career there in 1988. After rising through the ranks, he moved to the Hampshire Police Force before joining the Hampshire Police Department at 43 age arrived as the new Leicestershire employee. chief in April 2010.
He said a number of incidents and investigations will remain in his memory for a long time. Recalling the “horrible” murder of Kayleigh Haywood, the explosion in Hinckley Road and the helicopter tragedy at King Power Stadium, he said, “These are all things I’ll think about after I retire.”
Mr Cole also led the force through the Covid0-19 crisis. “The situation changed daily. It was a remarkable experience, both in terms of our role in society and the impact on the organization,” he said.
“As a large organization, we had to monitor the impact of the virus. We couldn’t lock ourselves in and we went to incidents in PBM enforcing legislation that fundamentally changed the way people lived their lives.
“Those laws may change while my officers are on duty. I am extremely proud of the people we have who are trying to help people 24/7 and make a positive difference.”
The discovery and subsequent reburial of King Richard III was a special highlight, with the city being the center of intense national and international attention while experiencing an unprecedented moment in history. “That was unique in the truest sense of the word,” he recalls.
Finally he said: “Why did I join the police? I joined because I wanted to help people and I wanted a job that was different and that, at least in the beginning, didn’t involve sitting in the office all day. I wanted to do something that would offer challenges and have value.
“As a police officer, you don’t know what you’re dealing with every day. You can really make a positive difference and help people.”
Rupert Matthews, Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland said: “I am shocked and extremely saddened to hear this tragic news. Simon Cole was the epitome of a great Chief Constable whose dedication to public service was unwavering. We are alive. in a safer place thanks to his leadership.
“I know the officers and staff, past and present, of the Leicestershire Police will feel his death sharp. It was always it is clear to me that he was held in high regard at all levels and with genuine affection and I ask that people do not forget that in the coming days. They will mourn.
“My thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends and colleagues. I sincerely hope they have the time and space to grieve in peace.”
Adam Commons, chairman of the Leicestershire Police Federation, which represents regular officers, said: “Everyone at the Leicestershire Police Federation – and all Leicestershire Police Officers – are shocked at the news of the death of our former Chief Constable Simon Cole.
“Simon was a talented, approachable and inspiring Chief of Police – diligently leading our force for ten years. He was also a friend of many of us who cared deeply about his agents.
“The thoughts of all Leicestershire police officers are with Simon’s family and friends at this terrible time.”
A public register of condolence will be set up in the coming days via the Leicestershire Police website.