Sheriff's department has successful year

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Sheriff Buddy Grinstead told the Moffat County Board of Commissioners his first year in office has been a successful one.

Grinstead presented his year-end report during the regular board meeting Tuesday.

The Moffat County Sheriff's Department made sure commissioners got the message, using modern computer graphics and sound effects.

Beneath the show, reports showed the department managed a $1,025,423 budget in 1999 with 83 percent of that cost coming from employee salaries. For the year, the Sheriff's Department brought in $63,204.94 in revenue from civil processes and various fees.

Two of the bigger operations the department is involved in are the Moffat County Public Safety Center and the Marie Blee missing person case.

Construction for the safety center continues, and the department is working closely with other law enforcement agencies and the commissioners on the project.

The investigations division was highlighted in 1999 by the Marie Blee case and the more than 300 interviews that have been conducted by the Marie Blee Task Force.

Grinstead said the department's ability to clear cases has improved. Cases are cleared by arrest, victim not prosecuting, unfounded charges or the district attorney not prosecuting. If a case has no new leads, it isn't cleared and goes to inactive status.

Case clearance statistics are defined by type of crime Type A crimes include burglary or violent offenses such as aggravated assault or homocide, and Type B crimes are less serious.

The Sheriff's Department investigated 153 Type A crimes with a 30 percent case clearance rate. Sixty-eight Type B crimes were investigated with a 94 percent clearance rate.

According to Grinstead, the 30 percent rate is close to the national average. Grinstead said different clearance criteria in 1999 account for the drop in the Type A clearance cases. In 1997 the clearance rate was 71 percent.

"Our goal in the upcoming year is to bring that up to 40 percent and the year after bring it up to 50 percent," said Grinstead.

Total bookings into the Moffat County jail were down in 1999 with 906 people booked into Moffat County Jail.

Other programs the sheriff's report highlighted were the Sheriff's Department emergency management team and the special response team (SRT).

Grinstead said the emergency management team was important in Moffat County due to the number of oil and gas wells and pumping stations throughout the county and the number of tanker trucks that service them. The SRT team was put together in December 1994, and has 10 members of Northwest Colorado law enforcement and one incident commander. Grinstead believes 2000 will be another busy year for these teams.

"Having these teams in place doesn't cure the problem," said Grinstead. "It is the ongoing training and development of new tactics and procedures that constantly evolves. It is nice to know if we have a high-risk situation that we have the people trained to deal with it."

Grinstead said the department continues to foster relationships within the community.

He pointed to programs such as Ranch Watch and Detox Watches as efforts by the community and the Sheriff's Department to help Moffat County law enforcement work more efficiently.

"I think that it is not only the direction I want our office to go, but it has been around for a long time," said Grinstead. "It helps both us and organizations in the community do their jobs more efficiently."

On a curious note, the department cleaned out the evidence vault. According to officials, there were three truck loads of old evidence removed and destroyed. Some of the evidence dated back to the 1970s.

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