Moffat County Locals: Keeping Craig safe for his family, and all families, motivates hero cop Bryan Gonzales
Enforcing the law in a small community requires professionalism and “keeping in mind the oath you took to protect and serve. Everybody gets equal treatment,” said Craig Police Department Investigator Bryan Gonzales.
During a brief presentation Nov. 19, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 presented Gonzales with a plaque, “in recognition of unyielding adherence to the highest ideals of law enforcement in maintaining, preserving and protecting the lawful rights of all citizens.”
Gonzales was born and raised in Craig, but he didn’t take a traditional path into law enforcement.
After graduation from high school, he moved to Denver to study criminal justice at Metro State College, now Metro State University.
“I honestly realized that the typical college thing was not for me at that time,” he recalled.
So, he returned to Craig to work, fell in love, and was married.
“My father-in-law let me know there was an ad in the newspaper for a dispatch position with the city,” Gonzales said.
He applied for the job and was hired in September 1996 to work as a dispatcher, a role he would hold for four years before entering the police academy.
“CNCC had their first police academy here in town around the same time Colorado State Patrol was absorbing the local dispatch center,” Gonzales explained.
As his family grew with the birth of two children, he continued to work full-time, studied, and graduated the police academy in 2000.
“My transition was a lot easier than some,” he said. Working in dispatch had allowed him to become familiar with the systems and people of the Craig Police Department.
“I went on a lot of ride-alongs and got to see that other side of it,” he said.
The VFW honor is one of many recognitions Gonzales has received since graduating from the police academy.
On June 12, he received a commendation presented during a meeting of the Craig City Council in recognition of his role in preventing an attempted suicide.
“This award is presented to officer Bryan Gonzales for rendering extraordinary service to the community,” said Police Chief Jerry DeLong during the presentation.
Gonzales was called to help with a despondent individual who was on top of the Sandrocks preparing to commit suicide.
“He used his negotiating skills and a relationship developed during his lifetime in the community to talk the male away from the edge and diffuse a highly emotional situation,” DeLong said.
Council member Joe Bird, who lives in a home just below the Sandrocks, said he and his wife had watched events unfold. He added his appreciation to the standing ovation given Gonzales by council members and the audience.
“Having a history with someone helps you connect with people at a different level,” Gonzales said.
When not working, Gonzales enjoys spending time with his family, CrossFit training, and woodworking.
“If there’s a word below amateur woodworker, that’s what I am. My skills are so elementary it’s embarrassing, but I like to make things,” he said.
As with all Craig Police Department officers, Gonzales began on patrol. At the time of the incident on the Sandrocks, he was a corporal and has since been promoted to investigator.
“Craig now is not the same as when we grew up. There are a lot of drugs in town. I see it first-hand on a daily basis, and I never thought it be that way here,” Gonzales said.
He added his hope that the criminal justice system can find a way to motivate people to alter their behavior.
“Being born and raised in Craig, you want it to be a safe community,” Gonzales said, “I want them to be safe and comfortable, no matter where they are at.”
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.
For their participation in the illegal killing of multiple deer, three poachers from Craig are paying a price for the crimes, and for several other crimes related to the killing of the animals.