Crime continues to rise

Police respond to record number of calls in May

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Police and prosecutors are reporting record numbers of offenses in Moffat County.

Not even halfway through 2004, the Moffat County District Court docket already is on pace to beat last year's record caseload.

The 230 felony cases that were filed last year kept former Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Waite busier than prosecutors in Denver, said 14th Judicial District Attorney Bonnie Roesink.

In Waite's absence, the new chief deputy district attorney, Amy Fitch, has her work cut out for her.

Felony case No. 136 was filed this week.

Even last year, case No. 136 wasn't filed until Aug. 20. In 2002, the same case number wasn't assigned to a file until Oct. 28.

Fitch said the caseload is much higher than in her former jurisdiction in Grand County. She said the Moffat County docket is the busiest in the district.

After only a week at her new post, Fitch already has made some observations about crime in Moffat County.

"The first thing that struck me is how many of the same people appear over and over in multiple cases," Fitch said. "They're sort of rotating through as defendants, victims and witnesses to crimes."

The defendants include a "certain population that is pretty heavily into methamphetamine," Fitch said.

Craig police are dealing with a large number of drug offenders, too, said Craig Police Capt. Jerry DeLong, who supervises the department's patrol division.

"The officers are aware of the drug problem in town, we're being more aggressive toward that," DeLong said.

The police are working to stay ahead while calls for service are increasing.

According to the department's May progress report, the month was the busiest this decade, which is as far back as the monthly reports track.

Police responded to 1,351 calls for service in May. Before that, the leading month had been July 2003, when police fielded 1,297 calls.

DeLong said police are keeping up with the increased activity, but they have to prioritize calls, leaving some incidents on the back burner while they take care of the more pressing matters.

"We might not be as timely as we'd like on some of the calls, but we try to respond to everything," DeLong said.

Diana Meyer's staff in the office of Moffat County's Court Clerk is running to keep up with the filings, Meyer said. Motions, complaints and reports will have to be filed in their respective folders.

Each case will have multiple settings on the docket, which causes scheduling problems, Meyer said.A percentage of the cases will go to trial, which multiplies work for the clerks, who will have to issue summonses and handle inquiries from prospective jurors. "It's a combination of everything," Meyer said.

"I know we're really busy."

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