Craig Editorial Board, April 2009 to July 2009
- Bryce Jacobson, newspaper representative
- Joshua Roberts, newspaper representative
- Amy Fontenot, newspaper representative
- Bernie Rose, community representative
- Bill Lawrence, community representative
- Brenda Lyons, community representative
Craig The Craig Police Department recently released its 2008 annual report, a year-in-review of sorts for the city's law enforcement agency.
There were several items of note in the report that stood out, such as:
• The 23-member department covers a 4.9 square-mile jurisdiction, or about 53 total miles of city streets.
• The city responded to more than 15,000 calls for service and about 1,800 criminal calls last year.
• The top 10 calls for service are: animal complaints, follow-up investigations, agency assists, security checks, community policing contacts, citizen complaints, general complaints, noise complaints, disturbance calls and thefts.
• The police department's highest call volume days have shifted from Fridays and Mondays to between 10 p.m. and midnight Fridays and Saturdays.
While the facts above make for some slightly interesting reading, and certainly shed more light on the day-to-day activities of our public servants in blue, they're far from the most important in the annual report.
That distinction, at least in the Editorial Board's opinion, belongs to a statement in the report that indicates the police department estimates that "approximately 85 percent of all our crimes have a drug-causational relationship."
This estimate isn't anything new - it has long been established by local law enforcement that drugs play a prominent role in our community's crime rate.
However, based off the department's estimate, the 85 percent number stood out to Editorial Board members.
There are a few conclusions that can be drawn when looking at the statistic, particularly when holding it up against other facts from the report.
For instance, when drugs are the root cause behind 8.5 of every 10 crimes committed in Craig, it's troubling that our police officers are having to focus on calls like animal and noise complaints, instead of doing real police work on drugs.
Working on drugs would make a difference in the community, much more so than dealing with loose animals or someone who is playing the stereo too loudly.
Next, if drugs are as big of a problem as the statistic indicates, why is our area's task force, the All Crimes Enforcement Team, so woefully underfunded and understaffed? ACET works on a shoestring budget with a few officers.
If the task force had more resources devoted to it, could a bigger dent be made in the drug problem, thus lowering the crime rate?
Finally, the last conclusion that can be made with the 85 percent number has nothing to do with law enforcement and everything to do with what many police officers will concede - that the so-called war against drugs can't be won with enforcement alone.
Treatment and education are the silver bullets, not more handcuffs and more jails.
Lack of treatment options has been a trouble spot in Craig for years, ever since methamphetamine sunk its poisonous teeth into our community, and it's debatable whether we're any further along on options for people who want to change their lives.
There is the Communities Overcoming Meth Abuse group and the Moffat County Drug Court, and not much in between when it comes to prevention and education.
We can safely say that, short of diverting law enforcement resources to the real source of our community's crime problems, and without a renewed effort to acquire local treatment options, the troubling statistic in the police department's latest report may be one we have to deal with for years to come.