Calls, crimes jump in 2002 for Craig P.D.

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Craig police responded to more than 12,000 calls for service in 2002 -- the most activity and the largest year-to-year increase since at least 1995, according to the department's annual report.

Officers last year also handled a slight increase in overall reported offenses, according to the same report, which will be presented to the Craig City Council at its next regular meeting.

And while the department looks at last year's data, service calls in the early months of 2003 appear to be beating 2002's hectic pace.

"I don't know if there's any real explanation," said Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta.

"Every aspect of what we handle is busier."

At the same time, Vanatta cites construction projects and the associated influx of people -- notably the ongoing work at Tri State Generation and Transmission -- as a possible contributor.

Vanatta also suggested that community outreach efforts are paying off with residents providing more information to authorities.

"From a community policing standpoint, people are somewhat more willing to be involved in the process," he said.

Officers handled 1,601 offenses last year, a 9 percent increase from 2001, according to the department's report. Of the cases investigated, 46 percent were cleared, a slight improvement over 2001.

The report notes certain types of theft and assault on the rise last year.

Some 172 simple assaults were reported -- up from 101 in 2001 -- while reported sex offences rose to 30 from 19 over the same period.

Various thefts also climbed: 21 cases of stolen vehicle parts were reported, compared to nine in 2001, while thefts of items from vehicles jumped to 83 from 49.

Drug violations nearly doubled to 40 -- a figure Vanatta said doesn't exclusively reflect increased activity by the Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team.

"Our officers have become better trained and experienced in dealing with drug-related issues," he said.

Among other offenses, DUI and disorderly conduct cases both dropped off.

Some 28 DUIs were recorded in 2002, down from 40, while disorderly conduct fell to six from 21.

Loitering and curfew violations also jumped to 37 from 19.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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