Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta highlighted the courage and bravery of his officers Tuesday night during his annual report to the Craig City Council. His presentation also focused on significant cases, such as an ongoing child pornography investigation, and the changing drug culture in Craig.

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Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta highlighted the courage and bravery of his officers Tuesday night during his annual report to the Craig City Council. His presentation also focused on significant cases, such as an ongoing child pornography investigation, and the changing drug culture in Craig.

2011 law enforcement report presented to city council

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By the numbers ...

Statistics from the Craig Police Department’s 2011 report:

• 16,633/calls for service

• 11,511/criminal calls

• 537/adult arrests

• 100/juvenile arrests

• 143/cases assigned to detectives

• 78/cases sent to district attorney for prosecution

• 57/sexual assault related investigations

• 41/domestic violence related investigations

• 29/narcotics investigations by ACET*

• $42,400/estimated street value of drugs seized by ACET

• 100 percent/ACET conviction rate

• 693/NIBRS Group A arrests

• 818/NIBRS Group B arrests

• 49 percent/NIBRS group A clearance rate

  • All Crimes Enforcement Team

National Incident-Based Reporting System. Group A crimes include homicide, assault, sex offenses, fraud, extortion, etc. Group B crimes include violations such as curfew, DUI, liquor law offenses, trespass, etc.

Quotable

“Our officers take a great deal of pride in their job and they work very hard to clear the cases they investigate. I’m really proud of our officers’ hard work, which has resulted in a clearance rate much higher than the national average.”

— Walt Vanatta, Craig Police Department chief, in his law enforcement agency’s 2011 report

On June 20, 2011, Sgt. Brian Soper, Cpl. Bryan Gonzales and officers Lance Eldridge and John Meyers of the Craig Police Department responded to a potentially volatile situation.

A suicidal Craig man was armed with a gun.

The police officers, however, were able to avoid the incident escalating. They subdued the man and no one was hurt.

“They performed an extraordinary act and at great risk to their personal safety in an effort to save another human life,” Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta said.

Gonzales, Meyers, Eldridge and Soper were given the department’s Valorous Conduct Award for their efforts.

Vanatta cited the officers Tuesday night before the Craig City Council as examples of courage and bravery in the line of community service. The police chief presented council members with his department’s 2011 report.

Vanatta also discussed officer Ryan Fritz who, while on patrol, delivered a baby.

Fritz later received an award from George Rohrich, chief executive officer of The Memorial Hospital in Craig, shedding light on a little known statistic — in 2011, of the 4.2 million babies born, 6,600 of them were delivered by a police officer.

The police chief also briefed council members on an ongoing child pornography investigation as part of 2011 activity.

According to the 2011 report, the Federal Bureau of Investigation contacted the Craig Police Department when Google informed the agency of a web address in Craig that contained child pornography images.

In late December 2011, a police investigator, along with Moffat County Sheriff’s Office investigators and FBI Agents, searched the home of a Craig resident and seized a computer containing more than 25,000 “known” digital images and 400 “known” videos.

“Known” images and videos have been electronically tagged as child pornography by worldwide investigators, Vanatta said.

The suspect’s computer contained thousands of additional images of children ranging in age from infants to 18 year olds that had not been previously identified, the police chief said.

Investigators are currently working to identify whether any of the unidentified images are of local children, Vanatta said.

“This particular subject was also emailing people all over the world to assault their children, video tape it, and put it on (his site).” Vanatta said.

Vanatta thanked Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz for his deputies continuing to work on the child pornography case. Last year, Jantz used forfeiture money to purchase equipment and train two deputies in computer forensics.

As a result of the local case and others, law enforcement officials around the country require officers investigating child pornography cases to attend mandatory counseling.

“I’ve got one detective (who) is a mother of two and you can see it is just wearing on her,” Vanatta said. “They all do a great job and we’re putting them in a position to be exposed to stuff most people in the world don’t want to see, and I think we have an obligation to take care of them.”

Vanatta’s report also included information on the local drug trade.

The police department estimates 85 percent of crimes committed in Craig are related to drug distribution or use in some way.

After seeing a 56-percent reduction in drug-related incidents from 2009 to 2010, Vanatta said drug crimes spiked in 2011.

Vanatta said the department is seeing an increase in prescription drug abuse, particularly by minors, as well as an increase in medical marijuana possession by non-card holders.

He said juveniles are getting a hold of prescription drugs by raiding their parents’ and grandparents’ medicine cabinets.

To mitigate the problem, the police department, in partnership with the Colorado State Patrol, participated in National Drug Take Back Day in October 2011.

The nationwide initiative, sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, provides the public with an opportunity to turn over expired or unwanted medication to law enforcement officials for disposal.

Last year, the police department and state patrol gathered more than 30 pounds of prescription drugs. Nationwide, the initiative collected more than 188 tons, according to the DEA.

For adults, Vanatta said the drug of choice in recent years has been methamphetamine.

Although he could not discuss specifics, Vanatta told council members All Crimes Enforcement Team investigators are reporting a shift in the local drug culture.

“Right now, (ACET investigators are) doing some phenomenal work that I can’t really talk about at this juncture,” he said. “But the drug scene has changed and we’re beginning to see a lot more heroin and a lot more cocaine.”

Overall, the police department responded to 11,511 criminal calls in 2011, an 8-percent increase from 2010.

Of the 693 National Incident-Based Reporting System Group A arrests made in 2011, 337, or 49 percent, were cleared by police officers.

The national clearance rate for NIBRS Group A crimes, which includes violations such as homicide, theft, sex offenses, fraud, pornography and embezzlement, among others, was 32 percent in 2010.

“Our officers take a great deal of pride in their job and they work very hard to clear the cases they investigate,” Vanatta said. “I’m really proud of our officers’ hard work, which has resulted in a clearance rate much higher than the national average.”

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