Veteran Colo. deputy dies after suffering heart attack while on duty

Kraig Conger, 51, was known in the department as a "gentle giant," while others remembered him as a kind soul with an uncanny recall for names and faces

Duty Death: Kraig Conger - [Arapahoe County, Colorado]

End of Service: 12/28/2022

By Alex Edwards and O'Dell Isaac
The Gazette

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Family, friends and colleagues are mourning the loss of a 22-year veteran law enforcement officer and former Colorado Springs high school basketball standout.

Kraig Conger, an Arapahoe County Sheriff's Deputy and former Wasson High School hoops star, died Dec. 28 after suffering a heart attack while on duty. He was 51.

Conger joined the sheriff's office in 2000 after graduating from Colorado State University.

The 6-foot-10 Conger was known in the department as a "gentle giant," according to both Sgt. Steve O'Brien and Cpt. Scott Luedtke. Others remember him as a kind soul with an uncanny recall for names and faces.

"He had a mind like a steel trap," O'Brien said. "I mean he couldn't write a report to save his ass, but he remembered everything."

While Conger is remembered as affable and considerate in his dealings with people, he was a feared adversary on the basketball court. In high school, one rival coach recalled him as "a big bull of a player," and in 2012 he was listed in The Gazette as one of the best players in the Pikes Peak region.

After his star turn at Wasson, Conger played one year at the University of Southern California before transferring to Colorado State, where he finished his college career.

Conger began his law enforcement career at the Arapahoe County Detention Facility. Both O'Brien and Luedtke worked on and off with Conger since 2000. O'Brien was his supervisor for the last four-and-a-half years.

In 2013, he began working in the department's newly formed Arapahoe Diverts Mentally Ill to Treatment (ADMIT) program, where he worked until his death.

Conger's work in the ADMIT program was complemented greatly by that reliable memory, coworkers said: He remembered every client he worked with in the program. Conger's passion for mental health and sensitivity for it will be greatly missed.

"[He'd] connect with anybody with a problem that he could connect with, and not be a cop," O'Brien said. "The presence he left with all those hundreds of clients that went through the program is just immeasurable."

The big man never lost his love for basketball, according to his colleagues. Conger played on the department's team during the police and firefighters' basketball tournament held at Ball Arena (then known as The Pepsi Center).

The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office team made it all the way to the finals, where they ultimately fell to the Denver Police Department team.

"During that tournament, we were giving him a hard time because all he wanted to do was shoot 3-pointers," Lt. Rob Hedrick recalled. "And throughout that entire tournament I don't think he missed a single one, which was crazy impressive."

His love for sports extended to his family, whom he never tired of talking about. Both his children are budding athletes with "a future in sports," according to O'Brien.

Conger also served as a youth athletics coach, where he mentored kids and taught them the importance of sportsmanship and fair play.

Throughout his career, Conger exemplified service to community. In 2003, Conger was awarded the Russ Oberlin Respect for Law award by the Littleton Optimist Club for his commitment to community and service to the department.

He is survived by his wife Leslie, and two children.

A fund has been set up to help the Conger family with living expenses. Details on Conger's funeral have not been made public.


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McClatchy-Tribune News Service


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