Day after day, night after night, the law enforcement divisions of Moffat County work to create and protect a peaceful, productive community. Troop 4B of the Colorado State Patrol, the Moffat County Sheriff's Department and the Craig Police Department constantly patrol the towns of Northwest Colorado to keep its residents safe.
On Saturday evening, these departments gathered at the Veterans of Foreign Wars for their annual dinner and awards ceremony. Each department recognized those officers, volunteers and civilians who contributed outstanding service and dedication to their respective departments and to the community as a whole.
Troop 4B honored Trooper David Evridge as the Trooper of the Year. Evridge is stationed in Rangely.
"This year, in a pursuit that involved a shooting, Trooper Evridge handled himself very bravely and professionally," Capt. Gary Torgerson said. "Dave came under heavy fire from the assailant after a high-speed chase along Highway 139. After returning fire and rendering the assailant unconscious, Dave performed first aid while awaiting the ambulance. He successfully took in a very, very dangerous individual.
"We're very lucky he didn't take a bullet during the exchange," Torgerson said. "Two of the eight bullets that entered Trooper Evridge's windshield were at head level. We are very fortunate to still have Dave."
Berenice Naylor was recognized for her efforts and service in the 911-call center and dispatch office of the State Patrol barracks in Craig.
"Berenice has a very high quality of professionalism at all times," said Ruth Wade, communications director for the call center. "And she was recognized by our officers for her handling of the pursuit and shooting involving our Rangely officer [Trooper Evridge]; it was a fairly unanimous decision."
The Moffat County Sheriff's Department recognized several individuals during its portion of the ceremonies. Three reserve officers, Alec Brown, John Jepkema and Ed Wilkinson were given Awards of Appreciation from Sheriff Buddy Grinstead.
"These awards are to show our appreciation and recognition of the dedication shown by these volunteer officers of the Reserve Program," Grinstead said. "They do a great job for us, filling in when we need additional coverage and officers."
Grinstead also made a presentation to three young women for their "meritorious conduct" on Jan. 1. Carli Griffith, Audrey Hollingsworth and Jalen Hollenbeck rescued another girl who had fallen through the ice at the Freeman Reservoir, and then brought the girl out on a sled.
Deputy Tony Erickson's 20 years of service to the Sheriff's Department was also honored by Grinstead.
For the employees of the year, Grinstead explained that the winners are selected by their fellow officers through a nomination and voting process. This year, the Sheriff's Department is proud to name Deputy Todd Reece as Deputy Sheriff of the Year.
"We are also proud to announce Vicky Hays-Rayburn as the Detention Officer of the Year," Grinstead said.
The Craig Police Department recognized an officer who has served with the department for 10 years as the 2000 Officer of the Year.
"The officer has held many positions with us during his tenure," Chief Walt Vanatta said. "During the last few years, he has been a driving force for the implementation of community policing within the department. In 2000, Detective Sgt. Henry Stoffel started the Business Protection Program, and most importantly, implemented and was the director of the First Citizen's Police Academy.
"Sgt. Stoffel is very active in the community outside of his employment. He coaches children of our community in several different sports, and visits the schools as a guest speaker on many different subjects," Vanatta said. "Sgt. Stoffel also teaches at the Rangely and Craig Law Enforcement Academies."
The 2000 CPD Civilian Employee of the Year was honored for her efforts in the evidence room and evidence packaging policies, and for her work in check fraud cases.
"Investigative Technician Michelle Anderson has made several improvements to the position, completely reorganizing the evidence room, and revising the evidence packaging policies so the integrity of the evidence is not compromised," Vanatta said. "She has also dramatically increased the amount of money recovered for victims in check fraud cases. In 2000, Michelle handled over 60 check fraud cases and cleared 98 percent of them all but one.
This year, Anderson became coordinator for the Needy Assistance Program, as well as the Chaplains program. She was instrumental in revising the Needy Assistance Guidelines and provided needy children with bicycles through the Toys for Tots program.