Deputy Chief (Ret) A.J. DeAndrea
First to Respond
Deputy Chief A.J. DeAndrea (retired) is no stranger to the threat of tragedy in a school environment. As the first SWAT officer in America to respond to three school shootings, he is recognized as a national leader in the school safety and law enforcement space. He understands the impact tragedy has on districts, students, educators, first responders, and communities. His work developing model peer support programs for law enforcement and school safety teams helps those in the response and K-12 world find their way through the unimaginable.
DeAndrea graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder in 1990, receiving a bachelor of arts degree. He is a graduate of the Northwestern School of Police Staff and Command, Class 504, as well as the FBI National Academy Session 283.
DeAndrea began his career with the Arvada Police Department in Colorado in 1993, retiring from APD in 2023. During his time there, he served as a member of the Jefferson County Regional SWAT team from 1996 to 2012–a collateral duty team where he was a team leader. The majority of his career was spent on patrol, but he also spent two years as Sergeant of the Internal Affairs Unit and four years as Sergeant in the Community Response Impact Team (CRIT) and was also an operations commander. As deputy chief, he oversaw both the field and operations divisions of the Arvada Police Department.
DeAndrea was an entry team leader at Columbine High School on the first sweep of the building and a team leader during the “bulldozer incident” in Granby, Colorado. He helped devise and execute the tactical plan for the hostage rescue at Platte Canyon High School in September 2006. Again in 2006, he was the team leader during an officer rescue where a deputy was pinned down by gunfire and was rescued without injury. In 2007, he was the patrol supervisor and patrol entry team leader during the Youth With a Mission (YWAM) active shooting. Most recently, while working with the CRIT unit, he received his sixth Medal of Valor for helping to physically subdue an armed violent kidnapping suspect in a stairwell.
DeAndrea has received six medals for Valor, four medals for Distinguished Service, two medals for Meritorious Service, two unit citations, and numerous commendations.
From 2006 to 2010, he was honored as Police Officer of the Year through the Primo Awards. In 2007, he also received an honorable mention for Police Officer of the Year through the International Association of Chiefs of Police and Parade magazine. In 2014, DeAndrea received the John Kolman Award of Excellence from the National Tactical Officers Association. Also in 2014, he received the Colorado Attorney General’s Excellence in Law Enforcement award, given to only one law enforcement officer a year. In 2015, he was inducted into Colorado’s Italian American Hall of Fame. In 2017, he was recognized as the City of Arvada Employee of the Year for service to the community. In 2023, he was named the Jeffco/DeAngelis Foundation’s inaugural Community Safety Champion.
DeAndrea has taught all over the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Sweden. Some of those venues have been the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.; FBI academy in Quantico, Virginia; the IACP Annual Conference in both Denver, Colorado, and Chicago, Illinois; the Rocky Mountain Tactical Team Association; the Texas Tactical Police Officer Association; the Missouri Tactical Police Officer Association; and the New York Tactical Police Officer Association.
In 2009, he provided instruction at the Police Improvement Facility in Bramshill, United Kingdom, and in 2010, he was the international keynote speaker at the ACPO Conference in London, England. In 2012-2014 and 2017-2021, he instructed in Vancouver, Canada. In 2015-2017 and in 2019, he taught in Ontario, Canada. In 2018, he spoke in both Regina and Calgary, Canada. In 2017 and 2020, he instructed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and in 2022, in Quebec City, Quebec.
He is an instructor for the National Tactical Officers Association and does numerous after-action reports of the incidents he’s been involved in. He is a member of the advisory board for both the I Love You Guys Foundation and the Jeffco/DeAngelis Foundation, two national premier nonprofit organizations in the school safety space.
DeAndrea is also a lead instructor for the NTOA’s Team Leader Development course, a lead instructor in the NTOA’s Command College, a Master Less Lethal instructor, and a Colorado and Alaska POST-certified instructor. He teaches Leadership, Officer Survival, Building Searches, Rapid and Immediate Deployment (RAID), Enhanced Active Shooter Strategies, Single Officer Response to an Active Shooter, SWAT, SWAT Team Leader Development, Defensive Tactics and Firearms as well as many other course. He was formally certified in Explosive Breaching.
He is recognized as a subject matter expert on active shooters by the U.S. Department of Education. In 2013, he spoke in the Kennedy Caucus Hearing Room in Washington, D.C., and participated in a conference call with Vice President of the United States Joe Biden. In June of 2018, he met with Attorney General of the United States Jeff Sessions. He is the owner and CEO of Centurio Training and Consulting LLC.