Walt Vanatta, left, Craig Police Department chief, swears in new police officers Eric Montes, middle, and Norm Rimmer during a ceremony Jan. 12. The addition of Rimmer and Montes brings the Police Department back up to full staff. The new officers currently are going through field training, a process that can last up to four months.

Courtesy photo

Walt Vanatta, left, Craig Police Department chief, swears in new police officers Eric Montes, middle, and Norm Rimmer during a ceremony Jan. 12. The addition of Rimmer and Montes brings the Police Department back up to full staff. The new officers currently are going through field training, a process that can last up to four months.

Additions bring Police Department back to full staff

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Walt Vanatta, Craig Police Department chief, swore-in two new officers Jan. 12, bringing the department back to its full complement, a trait that was difficult to achieve last year.

"Our turnover rate has (traditionally) been very good," said Vanatta, adding that recent years entailed losing about one officer a year on average. "We went for a long time without losing anybody. Last year, things just came together all at once."

The Police Department lost five of its 24 officers last year - two to disability, two others who changed careers and got out of law enforcement and one who moved out of the area.

But, with the addition of Norm Rimmer, 38, a law enforcement veteran with 15 years of experience, and Eric Montes, a 21-year-old rookie who graduated from the police academy in December 2008, the Police Department now is fully staffed.

"Knock on wood, that's correct," Vanatta said.

The Police Department has all of its full-time, sworn-in positions filled. Four of those positions are administrative, and the remainder are for officers handling more traditional police work.

Rimmer has worked in law enforcement in areas such as Kremmling, Winter Park and Morrison, and recently spent a year working as a police consultant in Iraq.

He said he liked what the Craig Police Department had to offer.

"I like that they're a proactive department," said Rimmer, who helped train future Iraqi police officers in police policies, procedures and tactics, "and that there's a lot of opportunity here."

Montes, a 2006 Moffat County High School graduate, was working in maintenance in Steamboat Springs before becoming a police officer. He said the call to do something more pushed him to law enforcement.

"I thought, 'I can't be doing this all my life,'" he said. "I like working around people, and helping people. It just seemed like this was going to be a really good career."

Rimmer said his move to Craig potentially could be a permanent one.

"I'm actually looking at settling down," he said, "and I want to stay on the Western Slope."

Montes said he's "a little nervous" to start but excited to get experience under his belt.

Both new officers currently are going through field training, a process taught by three training officers and one that can last up to 16 weeks. All new Craig Police Department officers are required to go through field training, Vanatta said.

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 875-1791, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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