Craig sending 4 future officers to POST certification |

Craig sending 4 future officers to POST certification

The Moffat County Public Safety Center includes the offices of the Craig Police Department.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

In a step toward creating a more fully staffed Craig Police Department, the Craig City Council approved Tuesday the use of American Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for four future officers to go to Peace Officers’ Standards and Training certification starting in January.

In total, the city will spend $266,143 toward the certifications. This total covers tuition, meals, transportation, uniforms and gear, benefits and other expenses for each of the officers through flexible time off until they can go solo as officers.

Most of the expenses that would have gone toward sending the officers was already budgeted in the 2022 budget that was passed in November. It was not specified that ARPA funds would be used for payment, which prompted the approval at Tuesday night’s meeting. ARPA funds — approved by the federal government on March 11 of this year — are part of a relief package that provides funding in several areas such as state and local aid, education, rental assistance, transit, stimulus payments for individuals and other provisions. State, local and tribal governments that have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic could have applied for these funds to help with costs accumulated during recovery.

The four future CPD officers are Tyler Betts, Hannah Wood, Kelsey Morford and Daniel Molina. Betts and Wood are currently community service officers with CPD. Morford and Molina are new recruits.

Chief Michael Cochran told the council that sending the four cadets will help with the understaffing issues that CPD is facing. Across the state, local police departments are struggling with recruitment and retention of officers, which is prompting administrators to use incentives and other perks to fill open spots. Even when the officers graduate POST certification in 2022, the Craig force will still need at least two more employees to be fully staffed.

Two of the recruits — Betts and Molina — will start training at Flat Rock POST Certification Training Program in Arapahoe County on Jan. 3, and the other two will attend Colorado Mountain College Academy in Glenwood Springs starting Jan. 17.

“Unfortunately, we can only get two into Flat Rock. Glenwood is the college campus, so they charge the college prices. We’re looking at about $14,000 per student there,” Cochran said. “It starts within about two weeks of each other in January, so at the end of May, we should have four fresh police officers. Flat Rock is an Adams County-sponsored Academy, so the sheriff’s offices in that community use it primarily for themselves and they will allow other agencies to send with space permitting. We got two, and I believe the (Moffat County) sheriff’s office got two for that Academy, which was pretty good for an outside agency not from that area.”

In recent months, discussions have been raised around bringing a POST certification program to Craig’s Colorado Northwestern Community College campus, but Cochran said that there has been no update on his end about whether or not that is a viable option in the near future.

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