Opportunities for family, career reason for Stoffel’s move
Craig Police Department will say farewell to 11-year veteran, new job will be in Mesa County's Complex Crimes Unit
December 19, 2001
By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
Friday, the Craig Police Department will lose an officer who has served in this community for more than 11 years.
Administrative Sergeant Henry Stoffel is leaving the department to join the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department in February.
Stoffel came to the Craig Police Department after serving four and a half years as a member of the military police for the U.S. Army. While in the service, Stoffel served in Germany, Honduras, Ft. Lee in Virginia, and in Panama after the United States’ invasion there in 1988. Stoffel joined the army immediately after graduating from high school in Wisconsin, where he was born and raised.
Joining the Craig Police in 1990, Stoffel has observed the community go through many changes.
“I’ve seen a lot of positive changes in Craig,” he said. “I’ve watched it go from a very hardened, tough town with an extreme amount of alcohol and drug abuse to a town that has matured into a very caring and giving community.
“In 1990, it didn’t matter what day of the week or what time of day it was, we were constantly going to violent crimes and there were less people in the community. I’ve seen a dramatic decrease in violent-type crimes because the community decided it was unacceptable.”
The police department has also changed during Stoffel’s tenure.
“When I started, the department was a very rigid, paramilitary one,” he said. “I’ve seen some bad times since then saw things within the department that I disapproved of. The city fathers also saw that, also disapproved and made changes. Now, this is a professional, employee-driven department.”
The most memorable case that Stoffel solved was the vandalism of Sunset Elementary, which took almost a year to complete.
“That case was hundreds of hours of frustration, but I was able to solve it,” he said. “The individuals who committed those crimes are now serving time in jail.”
Not all of Stoffel’s cases worked out that well, and the molestation case involving Grant Taylor is one that continues to bother Stoffel.
“We had a Boy Scout leader who molested at least one young man, and I felt that his punishment didn’t fit the crime,” he said. “That will bother me for a long time.”
With the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, Stoffel will be serving in the Complex Crimes Unit as an investigator. He plans to move his family into the Grand Junction area, which is key reason for the move.
“My main motivation is the opportunities this move presents to me and my family,” Stoffel said. “The opportunity to live in Grand Valley also offers me the chance to go back to school and finish my degree in Business Administration. I also will experience a new department, which will prevent me from getting into a rut. Like the saying goes, ‘The only bad opportunity is the one not taken.'”
Lieutenant John Forgay has worked with Stoffel since Forgay returned to the department in 1994, and knows the department is losing a key player.
“Henry has been a great asset to the department, especially because of his energy and intelligence,” Forgay said. “It’s always difficult to lose someone of his caliber. He is an excellent investigator, and he also puts a lot into his outside work youth sports and so forth. That’ll be missed also. I’m sure he’ll succeed, and certainly be an asset to the Mesa County department.”
Craig Chief of Police Walt Vanatta also is well aware of what the Craig Police are losing.
“We are going to miss Henry for a lot of reasons,” Vanatta said. “He’s been here a long time, and he has a good institutional memory about why this department did or didn’t do certain things. Henry’s an energetic, talented officer. He’ll be hard to replace.”
The department is in the process of evaluating the position of Administrative Sergeant, and the mechanics of how Stoffel will be replaced and his duties covered have not been finalized, Vanatta said.
Stoffel is leaving the department and the community with good memories of his time and career here.
“I’ll always cherish the memories I have of Craig,” he said. “I appreciate all the friendships and opportunities that the town and the community provided me with. I always be proud to say I was a member of the Craig Police Department.”