Police department seeking local recruits

New program to provide salary, training

The Craig Police Department is looking to recruit from the local community and it's willing to pay for the required training.

The agency is offering a salary and will pick up the costs for qualified candidates to attend Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification classes. In exchange, the new officer would sign a three-year contract with the CPD.

"What we're finding is that, like a lot of agencies in western Colorado, it's hard to compete with the high salaries offered in the Front Range departments," Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta said. "We've hired a lot of people that are getting their foot in the door with our department and then they move to the Front Range."

Vanatta said the Craig Police Department has lost 13 officers in the last three years. Four of the officers moved on to higher paying jobs, four left for location reasons and five left law enforcement altogether. In that same time span, the CPD has spent $248,000 to train and hire new officers some of which have since left the department.

"We'd like to explore if there are people available locally who could become officers," Vanatta said. "If they meet the qualifications, minus the POST training, they would become paid employees while they were certified. They would sign a contract to work for us for three years and once they completed the certification, they would begin working for us.

"We're looking at a couple of things. One, we would like to bring in people who are already local, who don't have a big desire to move. Two, we would know that the candidate was hirable going into the process a lot of people that get POST certified on their own are not hirable by law enforcement departments."

This program would allow qualified candidates who can't afford to take the time off for the necessary training to still have an income while going through the process to become an officer, Vanatta said.

The cost for a POST certification program is approximately $3,000.

There are several requirements that have to be met to be eligible for this program. A candidate must:

meet age, physical, background, and job experience standards set by the state and the CPD

have no felony or domestic violence convictions

have a high school diploma or GED equivalent

pass written, oral, medical and psychological tests

pass a thorough background check, including criminal history investigations by the NCIC, CCIC, FBI and CBI

provide a 10-year employment history

provide a valid Colorado driver's license and driving record.

The Craig Police Department will have three openings for officers by this August.

"This program is for people in our community that want a career change or are interested in joining law enforcement but aren't certified," Vanatta said. "We want to hire people we can retain. Our community has good schools, is a great place to raise a family, offers a lot of outdoor activities hunting, fishing, horseback riding and is a far safer and better environment than larger cities, in my opinion. We're exploring every alternative we have to find quality people locally. If there are residents who meet the requirements and want to become officers, we want to help them do that."

Anyone interested in exploring the possibility of joining the Craig Police Department should contact Craig Police Administrative Sgt. Bill Leonard at 826-2360.

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