Moffat County Locals: Behind the badge officers are community members too
Officers Kelsey Morford and Ryan Hampton work in different roles with the Craig Police Department but in both of their roles they are directly serving and building up the community.
Both officers were presented with Life Saving Awards from Chief Michael Cochran in November for their efforts in an emergency call on Oct. 18 that saved a 72 year old woman’s life.
Morford, who is originally from Grand Junction, moved to Craig and started working in the Moffat County Jail as her first step into law enforcement. With the encouragement of coworkers and her fiance, who is also a patrol officer with Craig Police Department, Morford enrolled in the academy.
For the first couple of weeks on the force, Morford was on patrol, which is when she and Hampton took life saving measures on the Oct. 18 call. Shortly after she joined the force Morford moved into a role in investigations. She said her whole life and childhood led her to a career in law enforcement.
“I like everything about it. I like digging into stuff and being a voice for people in the community, because I didn’t always have that growing up,” Morford said.
Being in investigations still puts Morford on the field every once in a while, but the bulk of her work is in the office doing deep dives into cases.
In both of their roles officers Morford and Hampton intersect with many other local agencies and services including, the Department of Human Services, Adult Protective Services, Open Heart Advocates and youth diversion.
“A lot of people don’t realize everything that goes into the cases,” Morford said, adding that she relies on Hampton’s work in the community for many of the cases she investigates.
Officer Hampton grew up in Craig and was previously a deputy and corporal for Moffat County Sheriff’s Office before joining the Craig Police Department two years ago. He now serves as the school resource officer for six schools in Moffat County School District, along with regular patrol duties over the summer and during school breaks.
When Hampton attended Moffat County High School he connected with the school resource officer, so it was always something that he wanted to do.
After high school Hampton went on to study mechanics and worked in that field for ten years and at the end of his mechanic career was working in the coal industry. Hampton decided to go into law enforcement because of the uncertainty over the future of the coal industry.
According to Hampton, the school resource officer does everything related to school safety. Part of that role is helping to enforce school policies and security checks. Hampton said the biggest issues he sees on school campuses is tobacco and marijuana, but there are sometimes fights or other issues he helps with.
“Everything we see in the streets, we see in the schools,” Hampton said, adding that his job in the schools is not to look for crimes, it’s to make sure students are safe.
But the purpose of Hampton’s role is to bridge the gap between law enforcement and youth in the community. Getting to know local youth is a big part of that job and Hampton also helps with the educational pieces, for example stepping in to help social studies teachers with civic engagement lessons.
Teaching the Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or DARE program is another big part of Hampton’s role. DARE is a youth prevention program which Hampton delivers to fifth grade classes in Moffat County. The program is Hampton’s favorite part of his job, and it reaches about 350 students each year.
The one thing that both officers said they hope the community will remember is that behind the badge police officers are people and community members too.
Morford said that she notices the difference in how people treat her when she is in uniform versus the days she comes into the office in civilian clothes. Building trust and a positive perception of law enforcement with local youth is a big part of Hampton’s role as a school resource officer.
Hampton has two kids, one in seventh grade and one a high school freshman, and his wife also works in the schools as a counselor. Outside of work, Hampton is a middle school wrestling coach and captain of the fire department.
Morford has two dogs and a cat with her fiance, and she said they are both very close to his family.
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