Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta distributed the department's 2007 annual report - a comprehensive analysis and statistical review of the previous year - to the Craig City Council on Tuesday night.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta distributed the department's 2007 annual report - a comprehensive analysis and statistical review of the previous year - to the Craig City Council on Tuesday night.

'Challenges remain'

High profile investigations highlight police department's annual report

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Adult arrests

2001: 379

2002: 430

2003: 458

2004: 452

2005: 520

2006: 524

2007: 654

Service calls

2001: 10,615

2002: 12,103

2003: 13,244

2004: 14,958

2005: 14,946

2006: 16,937

2007: 17,963

— Last year was unique in one respect for the Craig Police Department - it included two complex investigations that consumed resources and hundreds of staff hours.

"Hundreds of hours of investigative time was committed (in 2007) to a very complicated homicide case as well as the arson fire that destroyed the Country Mall," Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta wrote in the department's 2007 annual report.

"I am particularly proud of the effort all our staff made in investigating a very complicated homicide case that drained our normal resources, while still accomplishing most of our strategic objectives. The teamwork demonstrated by not only our employees, but those of other agencies we work with is exceptional."

Vanatta distributed the annual report - a comprehensive analysis and statistical review of the previous year - to the Craig City Council on Tuesday night.

He said he couldn't remember a previous year that included two major crime investigations such as the Cynthia Hankins' murder that began in June 2007 and the arson, which occurred five months later, in November.

"I don't think there's been two of that magnitude," he said.

The Hankins investigation resulted in an arrest - the victim's husband, Terry Hankins, is charged with first-degree murder, has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for a December jury trial - while the Country Mall fire remains open.

"Craig has no immunity from the violent crimes that are most often associated with metropolitan areas," Vanatta wrote. He said the "tireless efforts" of a joint homicide investigation with the Moffat County Sheriff's Office and 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office entailed more than 30 search warrants served in two different states.

"What doesn't stand out (in the report) is the compassion shown by officers," the police chief reported. "In particular, Detective Jen Kenney spent hours communicating and working with the victim's family. Her commitment to assuring that the family was kept informed, even of the gravest news, was extraordinary."

But, the cases were just two in a year Vanatta described as "busy, yet successful."

Among the highlights in the report are:

• Officers responded to 17,963 calls for service, a 6-percent increase from 2006. In the past seven years, calls for service have increased by 69 percent, the police chief said.

• Included in those calls for service were about 1,900 criminal calls. The criminal calls are divided into Group A offenses - such as burglary, vandalism/criminal mischief, theft, assault, robbery and sex offenses - and Group B offenses - disorderly conduct, trespassing and liquor law violations.

• Accomplishing strategic goals, which includes "dramatically" improving communications with the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Offices, beginning replacement of in-car cameras with modern digital technology, developing and implementing new sexual assault protocols and establishing three Neighborhood Watch groups in the city.

The latter is an initiative the Police Department would like to see expanded.

"We would really like to see more of those" Neighborhood Watch groups, Vanatta said. "We'd like to encourage those."

• Maintained an "above average," 49 percent clearance rate for the department. Police detectives maintained a 57 percent clearance rate.

Vanatta said his department's clearance rate is on par with national averages.

"I'm happy with it," he said. "It was 44 percent last year, so it went up five percent."

• The year saw a "dramatic increase" in adult arrests - 524 in 2006 compared to 654 in 2007, equaling 130 more arrests and a 25 percent increase. Adults arrests have increased six of the last seven years, according to the annual report.

• After a one-year decrease, drug incidents again rose. From 2001 to 2005, drug incidents increased more than 200 percent. The police department hoped a small reduction in 2006 would continue, Vanatta said, but reports of drug/narcotic violations and drug equipment violation increased in 2007 by 14 and 19 reports, respectively.

"Illegal drug use continues to be a major issue in our community," he wrote.

The rise in calls for service have increased activity for patrol officers. According to the report, officers handled 1,382 calls for service per officer in 2007, equaling 565 more calls per year than in 2001, when the number was 817 calls per officer.

The Police Department has 24 officers and six civilian staffers. The rise in calls for service and the administrative requirements involved in those calls has prompted the department to look at hiring more support staff, Vanatta said.

The department is currently in the process of developing objectives for this year. While the objectives are not complete, Vanatta said public feedback dictates that traffic and drug enforcement remain "at the top of the list."

"Those two areas are obviously going to stay a focus for where our resources go," he said.

Vanatta wrote in the report that the department's accomplishments and public service are a credit to officers and support staff.

"I personally express my appreciation to all our employees - they are the reason for our success," the police chief wrote. "It has been said that 'teamwork means that we share a common ideal and embrace a common goal. Regardless of our differences, we strive shoulder to shoulder, confident in one another's faith, trust and commitment. In the end, teamwork can be summed up in five short words - we believe in each other.'

"I do not believe you can find a better example of this than that provided by the fine men and women of this department. I am extremely proud to be affiliated with such an extraordinary group of professional people."

Vanatta concluded that "many challenges remain" for the police department, citing specifically the "local war against methamphetamine use" and the "resultant impacts on our community."

"We are all facing critical challenges which are changing our community and our nation," he wrote. "The members of the Craig Police Department are excited to be actively engaged in working with people at all levels to enhance our quality of life and protect the public from all criminal threats."

Comments

freeman 6 years, 8 months ago

only in craig.......if you have money or a BIG name,,,you can get a BIG break if you commit a violation of the law????????

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oldsage 6 years, 8 months ago

Are you kidding Native. You cannot share information on this website about unindicted felons, and this paper even with the evidence of multiple felonies in hand has not reported the truth about the cases, but instead covered up with silence. Don't bother reporting crimes until you know just exactly who is above the law in this community. I have often wondered just how many seemingly unrelated acts of "criminal mischief " are in-fact retaliation for the lack of real Justice in this community! I hope they don't ban me from the forum for my observation!

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grannyrett 6 years, 8 months ago

I don't care if they monitor this board. If freeman has something to say, then say it. Otherwise, he is just blowing smoke up his-um-er-uhh-ear. He doesn't have to name names. Just facts about what happened.

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Neal Harkner 6 years, 8 months ago

So nice to see that the presumption of innocence, one of the very cornerstones of our legal system, is alive and well in here. "Unindicted felon" is an oxymoron. Until someone confesses to or is convicted of a crime, they are not a felon, regardless of how much evidence there is to the contrary.

I'm not saying there is or isn't hanky panky going on. In the eyes of the law, a person is innocent until proven guilty in this country last I looked.

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oldsage 6 years, 8 months ago

Yes, officially you are innocent until proven guilty. But you are guilty if you did the crime even if some worthless prosecutor did not charge you with the crime! And to clarify what I stated, the duty and responsibility of the press (Media) to be the watch dog on government and public officials is always there. Everybody knows Bill Clinton lied under oath (Felony) and still the members of the media cannot wait to get in line to lick his boots (or what ever) when ever he is around. And, wasn't it this forum that was suspended by this newspaper just two weeks prior to the last election when a relative of a candidate for sheriff admitted on the forum that she had heard all the specific allegations of personal misconduct that had been exposed on this forum, at a meeting that the candidate told his family what they could expect to hear about his personal behavior if he ran for sheriff. It must have been clairvoyance!

If that is not an example of the media controlling the public discussion of who is worthy of being elected to public office I don't know what is. That same thing happens on the national level too. The national media just don't cover the candidates they don't want to be elected or stop the discussion elsewhere like one network did by not allowing the candidates they don't want elected to participate in debates on their network. Thanks Faux News! I quit watching them and so did a lot of other people, their ratings show it too!

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