Craig police officer fired after disorderly conduct in Grand Junction
February 25, 2014
Craig — A Craig police officer who was arrested in Grand Junction on Feb. 16 was fired Monday after the Craig Police Department conducted an investigation into the incident.
The officer, Eric Montes, was charged with disorderly conduct and disrupting government operations in Grand Junction.
According to the summons, the Mesa County Sheriff's Department responded to a report of an assault where Montes allegedly pushed his girlfriend up against a wall, grabbing her arms during an argument. Montes denied the assault behavior when questioned by officers.
The deputies on the scene decided to not file assault charges. Instead, it was Montes’s alleged behavior during the questioning that led to his arrest, according to an affidavit that outlined his actions.
Deputies told Montes that he needed to leave the scene to deter further incidents, yet he was intoxicated and unable to drive, according to the citation. It was too cold for him to sleep it off in his car, so deputies encouraged Montes to stay in a hotel. Montes argued with the deputies on that point, but they insisted and called him a cab. But Montes didn't calm down. He just got louder, the affidavit stated.
After using expletives and attracting attention from a passing individual, the deputies charged Montes with disorderly conduct and disrupting government operations, and booked him in Mesa County Detention Facility.
The Craig Police Department followed up with an internal investigation to determine potential disciplinary action, and found that several policy violations were sustained in the incident.
Notably, in the summons, it was reported that Montes claimed he was a "coal miner."
"There was an indication in the reports that he wasn't honest about his profession," said Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta. "From our point of view, the biggest concerns that we had dealt with his future credibility. If you ever lose your credibility, you've pretty much lost your ability to do your job."
Since Montes allegedly was dishonest during his arrest, his credibility would be called into question every time he testified in a court case, Vanatta said.
"The other part of our discussion just pertained to the organization's integrity," he said.
The people of Craig needed to trust that the police department would hold its officers accountable, Vanatta said. It's important to hold officers to a higher standard, he said.
"In the law enforcement profession the price you pay may be higher," Vanatta said.
From the point of his termination, Montes has five days to appeal the decision.
Due to city budget constraints the police department is "evaluating whether we're going to fill (the vacant position) or not," Vanatta said.
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@craigdaily press.com.