Police chief reprimanded for misplacing firearm

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File Photo

Walt Vanatta

Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta received a letter of reprimand last week from the Craig Police Department after leaving his department-issued weapon inside a bathroom in the Moffat County Public Safety Center.

“It was absolutely unintentional, but it is what it is,” Vanatta said of the incident, which occurred Jan. 30.

A Moffat County Jail inmate recovered the weapon and turned it into jail staffers.

Vanatta said he apologized to “everyone in the building” for the incident.

The police chief said he delegated investigation to one of his commanders, who investigated it like he would have if anyone else was involved.

“He did his investigation and I was issued a letter of reprimand, which was justified because it was a careless act,” Vanatta said.

The investigation is now closed, Vanatta said.

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Comments

dogfan 2 years, 2 months ago

Kind of funny how we learned about this on 9 news last night.

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xrsareus 2 years, 2 months ago

What timing!!! Here is a quote from the daily press in today's daily press about the Kiwanis play " “Unless the city and the (Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265) give us something really interesting to work with as they continue to negotiate over (Craig) City Park,” Jacobson said. “You really never know. I’ve seen the theme change as late as the week before the play.” Well looks like the play script might have to change "a little". But not because of the VFW Too funny.....

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lonelyone 2 years, 2 months ago

Seriously it was on 9 new last night? Well I am glad the Chief didn't act like he was above it all and that he didn't deserve the reprimand. And an atta boy should go to the inmate who found it and did the right thing by turning it in and not attempting to use it on anyone and try to get out of jail!

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SayWhat 2 years, 2 months ago

Is it just me, or does it seem like there are more articles about our police force screwing up, than there are articles about criminals screwing up? Just imagine if an inmate like Mr. Jerod Bays had gotten a hold of that weapon........It had the possibility to create a literal blood bath. Absolutly ridiculous. I'm curious why his gun was removed from his holdster inside a bathroom accessible to inmates in the first place - Secondly, how in the WORLD do you foget to grab a loaded GUN? Perhaps he is developing Alzheimers in his age....maybe he's just getting too old to serve the public safely. What if he came into the Kum and Go bathroom, and your child went in next and found the gun, instead of an adult who knew the danger of a firearm.....I may be pushing it with that hypothetical, but it's still outright gross negligence on the chiefs part. Replace 'em all.

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Joanna Hatten 2 years, 2 months ago

"It is what it is" and "HE delegated a commander to investigate" .....SERIOUSLY??!! What it IS ...is an arrogant careless law enforcement officer!! I hope he comprehends the danger he put the entire safety center in....not to mention the safety of the public who he is paid to protect! And how EMBARRASSING to our community that this was on 9 news for everyone to ....ONCE AGAIN...take notice of our law enforcement community. What would have happened had that inmate decided to not turn the weapon in and had taken out into the community or back to his cell pod? I think Mr. Vanatta needs to personally thank this inmate for demonstrating more honesty and responsibility to the taxpayers of this community then he as a CHIEF of police did. As a taxpayer I am angered by yet another black mark on our community by law enforcement. Mr. Vanatta you need to be held accountable for your actions. I hardly think a "letter" is sufficient. But in his words...."IT IS WHAT IT IS!"

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TiredofSSDD 2 years, 2 months ago

Is the Chief reporting to the Craig Police Department or to City Council? The letter should have been from the Council and I bet it was a soft one too. This article is already going across the internet probably making Craig PD look a little foolish.

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native_craig_guy 2 years, 2 months ago

I think that some of the comments on here are ridiculous. More articles on the cops than the criminal screwing up? Do you not read the police blotter? Jarod Bays deserves what ever he gets. He is not an upstanding citizen and he is getting what he deserves. People in this town hate the cops when they pull them over, and then cuss them because they are never there when they are needed. They can't win.... Sure there are some worthless law enforcement officers on the departments here in the valley, but the vast majority of them are hard working honest people. Dont lump them all into the same group because of a couple of bad apples. BTW- There are also a bunch of shady accountants, store clerks, business owners, firemen and commissioners... but no one seems to jump their butts. Grow up, hating the cops is unwarranted.

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daily 2 years, 2 months ago

Dont lump them all into the same group because of a couple of bad apples.

This bad apple is the Chief of Police and he left a loaded weapon in the bathroom of a jail, oh well at least we made Facebook.

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Sam Relaford 2 years, 2 months ago

Seems that there is some serious need of some house keeping at our local PD. Officers screwing up right and left, now the police chief screwed up! What the heck is going on down there?? Thank GOD that inmate did turn that gun in.

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cory5611 2 years, 2 months ago

Only in Craig can you get away with this. The police force here get away with what they what. Maybe its time for the City of Craig dose something other then fight over rent its time to look at the Craig Police Dept and stop fighting with the VFW .

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jalana 2 years, 2 months ago

Before we “jump the gun” or get all up in “arms”…lets think about this.

First of all it's not like the guys/gals in the jail are “real criminals” after all everyone knows that that they were either framed or at the right place at the wrong time.The “real criminals” still walk amongst us.We have all made “mistakes” right? I mean I drive drunk occasionally,when I am in a hurry on my way to see my probation officer.Who hasn't stolen a car or two?Or beat their wife when she really needed it?

The people in the jail are just like you and me.They all come from good families.They all know right from wrong.After all the jailbirdy did give the gun back did he not?Personally I think they should all be given weapons.What if a real criminal gets through how are these innocents to protect themselves? Take Jarod Bays why his mother did an exemplary job raising her two boys..one is in caps and has several children he can not support..the other stole a car and got into a small scrap at the jail big deal….we all do this stuff.But then again we live in a nice little safe community why we have never had a man kill his wife and cut her into pieces and bury her on his land…no we have wonderful law abiding families like the Poglines to be proud of…we have never had a cop beat his wife or one who was having an affair with a girl in his custody.

I am sure the city or the county can hire someone in Denver to do a study on how to best prevent this from happening again.It will probably cost less than $50,000 and who knows may save a life.What they should do in the meantime is have some nice posters made up and post them in the bathrooms at the jail.Like a check list sort of thing..they can hang it next to the employees must wash hands before returning to work posters. It could read… 1.tuck shirt in 2.be sure and zip your pants 3.check to make sure you flushed 4.see that your hair is combed neatly 5. be careful to not leave your loaded sidearm on the sink you @#@%^# idiot

That should keep any unfortunate “accidents” from happening in the meantime until the study can be finished.

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onewhocares 2 years, 2 months ago

It takes months and months of testing and passing polygraphs and drug tests to get into the Communications Center to work, but the guys in orange (the inmates) simply have to commit a crime, be on good behavior and then get into the dispatch center just like that to empty the garbage, etc all unsupervised. What if one of those inmates had found that gun in the bathroom & walked into the communications center & decided to use it? That act of negligence by Vanetta endangered the whole communications (dispatcher staff) that is responsible for the western half of the state of highway troopers. The combination of allowing inmates into dispatch is a tragedy waiting to happen and then having officers leave their loaded firearms around a sure deal to have a horrible incident. Vanetta should be seriously punished for this act and the inmates absolutely not allowed in the Communications Center for obvious reasons. The dispatchers should be protected at all cost.

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TiredofSSDD 2 years, 2 months ago

ranger520 --

I think jalana was pulling our chains with biting wit or sarcasm. s

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jalana 2 years, 2 months ago

Thanks TiredofSSDD glad to see you got what I was getting at.

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cory5611 2 years, 2 months ago

Yea Ranger please read and try to slow down and thank about it and from the sounds of it she would be beating her wife not he

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jalana 2 years, 2 months ago

Ranger since you didn't get or appreciate my stab at humor at the ridiculousness of the situation let me throw a few more observances out there... I think they should have some sort of frequent flyer program for aboritions.. say 5 abortions get a free solar powered windmill that way whether you are headed to the abortion clinic,vegan market or the welfare office you can drive your electric car for free... you would be saving the planet and keeping the population in check its a win win..great circle of life learning experience

The public school system is awesome...of couwse I was taught to spell like it sounds...so I still mix up my w's and r's but all in all I think my education expewience was tewwific.

I also can not wait for OBAMA to be re-elected he is doing a fabulous job... the economy is booming...I have all of my guns and ammo ready for collection day...hopefully soon smokes and the golden arches will be a thing of the past...what a glorious day that will be.

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davidbowieonwheels 2 years, 2 months ago

Ranger looks like an idiot on these forums again, big surprise.

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cory5611 2 years, 2 months ago

I do agree with you on some stuff but the day the goverment comes after my guns is the day I will die fighting and I will be useing my guns that day for it. The only reason a gun kills someone is the moron be hind it. And economy is not doing any thang under Obama. And every one can blame Bush but it tank under a Demacrat contral the had the house and the senet starting in 2007 and you can go and look that up.Obama is the worst thang to happen to this country.

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Freespirit 2 years, 2 months ago

The worst part of this:

Vanatta wanted to ban open carry in Craig a few years ago. Remember that?

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westslopeguy 2 years, 2 months ago

I started reading this thread and thought to reply. But by time I got to the end, there were too many inane comments to respond to that I don't think I can do it coherently. Even WITH proper English and grammar, I know an anomaly at this board.

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westslopeguy 2 years, 2 months ago

But... Ranger, since you don't have enough COMMON sense to read what is posted, or understand satire, (not a difficult feat... as in most schools (Maybe not Moffat County schools), it is taught in 6th or 7th grade), maybe you should limit yourself to reading the posts and chuckling or fuming. But please, unless you have something constructive to add, don't!

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craigsfinest 2 years, 2 months ago

@jalana maybe u need to get ur facts straight b4 u start runnin ur senseless mouth about things an ppl u know nothing about about

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lonelyone 2 years, 2 months ago

I pretty much caught the silliness of Jalana's first post and thought ranger missed it, but then again how many times when it comes to people getting in trouble with the law, does someone post things like she did and they are totally serious?!?!? I can think of serveral and when they post something as crazy as Jalana did, boy howdy does it get out of hand on here!!

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jalana 2 years, 2 months ago

I was trying to point out how ridiculous the left come off.

I am a Christian,right wing,gun carrying,law abiding,citizen.I believe life begins at conception and doing anything to end that life is murder period.I think the people around here need to get a grip on reality.If you break the law you should be punished and severely so you will think twice next time.If you feel the need to do drugs and be a drunk fine but do not expect my sympathy when it all blows up in your face.This is all a bunch of crap the way criminals are treated here.Caps is a joke and we should not have to pay for anyones rehabilitation or whatever you want to call the so called drug/drunk problem of this county.

So much more so little time...

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craigsfinest 2 years, 2 months ago

@jalana if u were a "christian" u would not be slingin mud an mentioning ppl family names that have no reason to b mentioned in ur prior senseless post

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Patrick Germond 2 years, 1 month ago

Jalana, you rock! I got to go now and read your post to my wife!!!

PS Craig's finest, I don't think she ment any harm. Thank you for all your work. I've listed to you guys on my scanner and it makes me feel like I should bring you food or something. I don't know how you do it.

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Insider1313 2 years, 1 month ago

I think you all have a good point. On target I have to say it must be good to be a chief. You can put the public in danger and have a employee (that is under your control) give you a "letter of reprimand". If you read the letter to the editor you will see that he violated several policies that he wrote and signed. And the stories from 9 news and this paper don't add up. I did a search on the internet for similar incidents, almost always the officer was terminated. Even a police chief that had a firearm in his own car, their polices were that "a firearm need to be secure at all times". I guess Craig doesn't have that policy, nevermind they do if you read their policies on the web under http://www.craigpolice.org/general_orders.htm. This is a good site to go to, we all need to know what the police can and CAN'T do. We need to go to the city manager and state our opinions. We are the ones that foot the bill for their cars and their paychecks, etc. We need to push for the right actions, and that starts with letters to city council and the city manager. If we let this go they will sweep it under the rug. We can still act, call CBI (colorado Bur. of Investigations), call city council members, call your neighbor. Do we want the local police to have this much control or do we want our peaceful little town back.

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Patrick Germond 2 years, 1 month ago

I don't have an opinion one way or the other on the chief. Well, that's not entirely true. I applied there once, and I'm very great full to him for not hiring me. I can't think of a crappier job in the whole world. Considering what they have to deal with day in and day out. What I would like though is to see that position become an elected office.

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Insider1313 2 years, 1 month ago

Patrick you really are lucky. I agree that no one should have that much power. Kindof like the president giving himself a pardon. It shouldn't happen. I really wish it was an elected position also. I do know this article has brought a lot of debate and I hope it continues. I know with the right pressure we can change this.

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Becky Plummer 2 years, 1 month ago

Excuse my ignorance but why is the Sheriff position an elected position and the Chief of Police not?

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Insider1313 2 years, 1 month ago

The checks and balance of the local government is really odd. The Chief of Police answers to the City Manager (which should be contacted regarding this issue) or City Council, but the City Manager/City Council didn't punish the chief it was one of the Chief of Police’s investigators. The Sheriff answers to very few authorities; in fact the only one that I know that can arrest a Sheriff is the County Coroner. I think that our local authorities play on the fact that most of the local people don’t understand the chain of command that they should follow. I really wish someone would speak up in a City Council meeting.

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George Robertson 2 years, 1 month ago

So at what point do you determine that this dead horse has been kicked ENOUGH?

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Insider1313 2 years, 1 month ago

I agree with you ranger520. They would make sure that Craig was protected from someone who did something this stupid by locking him away and taking away his firearm. I am a little confused about the story though. 9news and the Craig Daily press didn't post the same story. They were different. If you tell more than one story to an officer, they call that reasonable suspicion of guilt. I wonder if he is trying to cover up more than this, maybe this wasn’t the first time this has happened. I also wonder what the letter that was wrote to reprimand him said. It would be funny if the Chief wrote it himself, lol. I think this story needs to be revisited and reinvestigated. Interesting fact there are cameras by the bathroom that this happened, I wonder if they are still in evidence.

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Insider1313 2 years ago

Just needed to post so this doesn't get swept under the rug, the talk around town is that at the next City Council meeting this may be brought up with new information. It seems this may not have been a one time thing, this was just the first time the public learned about it. Also this may not be the only thing being covered up. I will keep you posted with any new information I get. Question to all the people, Who wrote the letter of reprimand? According to what I've read if it was anyone but the City Manager, this may have been illeagle.

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