Jerry DeLong named chief of Craig Police Department |

Jerry DeLong named chief of Craig Police Department

Eleanor C. Hasenbeck

CRAIG ­— The city of Craig has a new top cop.

Jerry DeLong, who has served as interim chief for six months, was appointed chief of police during an executive session at Tuesday’s meeting of the Craig City Council.

“A lot of stress has been relieved off of, not only me, but the department,” DeLong said.

He added that removing the interim from his title has already created more stability in the department. Interim Captain Bill Leonard also lost his interim status and is now captain of the department.

“My main goal is trying to make it as safe as possible for the officers,” DeLong said. That includes introducing different equipment that makes officers’ jobs safer. DeLong also wants to keep a well-trained staff to “continue to provide the best service possible that we can for the community.”

DeLong was appointed to a six-month term as interim chief in August, when former Chief of Police Walt Vanatta was forced to retire. Council’s decision to appoint DeLong to the position came at the recommendation of City Manager Mike Foreman.

“He’s really given me a confidence in our police department, and I think he’s instilled confidence in our community, too,” Foreman said. “I think our community is in a better position now, with Jerry as police chief. “

Foreman said he’s met with DeLong weekly since he’s been in the position, adding that he’s been impressed by some of the moves DeLong has made during his interim role. Since DeLong has served as interim chief, he’s increased trainings at the police department and worked to hire a new officer from within the community.

“I think he focuses on the things that a police chief should focus on, and that’s officer safety, community safety and community policing,” Foreman said.

DeLong has worked for CPD since August 1985, except for about seven months in 2015, when he was “on loan” as interim police chief of Steamboat Springs.

During those 33 years, he’s worked his way up the ranks of the department. Before becoming interim chief, DeLong was at different times responsible for patrolling the city streets, training new officers and overseeing the department’s patrol officers and animal control division.

“He had the skills to be able to takeover an organization and really stabilize it, and he did that,” Foreman said. “He stabilized the police department, and now, he’s going to be able to make it his own.”

DeLong didn’t have much to say about himself, but he’s certainly proud of his department.

“It’s the people down here that are doing a good job for the community,” the new chief said.