Domestic call results in training session
Police Department, Sheriff's Office and State Patrol work together to diffuse potentially dangerous situation
November 12, 2001
By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
Even though the situation was handled without incident or arrest, a potentially dangerous scene was an important training tool for Moffat County law enforcement because of the way it was handled.
The Craig Police Department, Moffat County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado State Patrol worked together as a seamless team, fronting as a cooperative effort to tackle a challenging situation.
On Thursday evening, Craig Police responded to a call that involved a man with a gun in a residence on the 300 block of Washington Street. As the initial officers responded, they were met by a hysterical woman. A perimeter was established around the residence, using officers from the police department, Sheriff’s Office and State Patrol. The extensive manpower was needed because the situation was located in a residential neighborhood, Stoffel said.
“Our three agencies came together as a cohesive unit, and were able to handle the situation without incident,” Craig Police Administrative Sergeant Henry Stoffel said. “With the size of our local departments, we have to rely on each other to help out. The manpower of any one of these departments is not great enough to safely handle a situation like that a man with a gun.”
A command post was established that had at least one representative of each agency, and a plan was established to contact the male individual inside the residence at which time he exited the premises and contacted officers near the residence.
After assessing the situation, and talking with both the man and the woman, the woman was taken into custody for mental evaluation.
The uniqueness of the situation is that the three departments put together an effective cooperative effort, Stoffel said.
“We’ve always had good working relationships between the departments, which we are fortunate to have,” he said. “Being in the Moffat County Public Safety Center has only enhanced that cooperation.”
The responding officers used emergency protocol as the foundation of their organization. Sergeant Corey Wagner, being the first officer to respond, was the incident commander. As other supervisors arrived, the incident command team was organized. Police Lieutenant John Forgay, Stoffel, Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Tim Jantz and State Patrol Corporal Brian Bagley formed that team operating under Wagner.
“Each incident is handled differently, but the set emergency protocol gave us the foundation to work off of,” Stoffel said. “You take each situation and fit it onto the protocol, and build up from that. This incident will serve as a sort of blue print for future cooperative efforts.”
It takes more than just protocol to ensure that operations like this are effective, Forgay said.
“You can’t expect the same protocol to work for each different incident,” Forgay said. “The fact that the other agencies are willing to work together, and we’re willing to work with them, helps that system to be an effective response.”
The Craig/Moffat County Special Response Team (SRT), comprised of police officers and Sheriff’s deputies, is a tactical option when the departments have the luxury of being able to plan for a high-risk operation from the beginning. The departments did not have the time to organize the SRT for this particular situation, because time was an important factor, Stoffel said, but factions of the team were integrated into Thursday’s situation.
This is the first call since the departments have all moved into the same facility that required all three departments to work together and react quickly.
“We have a long standing history of cooperation, and you could see that in existence in how this situation was successfuly handled,” Sheriff Buddy Grinstead said. “This was the first call of that nature we’ve had since moving into the Safety Center. It warranted a quicker response, and we were all there together when the call came. The speed of the response in part can be credited to being in the same building.”
The officers from all the departments have worked well together, and that cooperation has increased since the move into the Public Safety Center, Grinstead said. “We have a good working relationships. The more we work together, the higher the comfort level of the officers involved, regardless of who is in command and control.”