No money for police in standoff, judge rules
Police cannot expect to be reimbursed by a defendant for overtime hours or the cost of bringing on additional officers for actions leading to an arrest of a Craig man, according to the ruling of a district court judge Tuesday.
Prosecutors from the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office requested $4,000 reimbursement to the Craig Police Department from Jonathon Crook. Crook, 24, was arrested in connection with a domestic violence incident July 26. A 12-hour standoff ensued when police received information that Crook was inside his Barclay Street home and allegedly armed with a “sawed-off” shotgun.
Crook’s attorney, Ron Smith, argued that, according to Colorado law, restitution charges could be granted only to victims. The police department doesn’t constitute a “victim” in this case, he said.
Moffat County District Court Judge Michael O’Hara agreed.
“I’ve just never heard of this happening before in my practice of criminal law for 18 years and 2 1/2 years as a judge,” he said. “I’ve never heard of a judge granting this request anywhere.”
O’Hara asked prosecutors to provide evidence of another case in which a police department recovered restitution costs in connection with an arrest, but the prosecution was unable to do so.
Instead, district attorneys asked whether the costs could be reimbursed as fees associated with prosecution. Costs for prosecution can be reimbursed for specific reasons such as those for jury trials, the cost of obtaining an interpreter, travel expenses or entering a diversion program, O’Hara read from a statute.
“As much as this seems to be unfair, I’m sorry, there doesn’t appear to be any authority for this,” O’Hara explained to police in the courtroom about his ruling.
Craig police Lt. Jerry De—-Long said that although the department won’t be reimbursed for the incident, officers would handle the situation the same way if it happened again.
“That’s the safest way,” DeLong said.
Crook was taken into custody without incident at about 4 a.m. July 27 after officers threw a gas canister into the home, capping off 12 hours of police trying to get Crook to come out. Crook was sleeping in the house, and his father could not physically remove him, Crook’s lawyer said at Tuesday’s hearing.
Craig City Attorney Kenneth Wohl said he wasn’t sure whether the city would press for restitution costs through a civil case. He said he would have to take into consideration the fact that O’Hara already denied reimbursement to city police. Wohl said he also would have to consider the defendant’s ability to pay such costs.
Smith said after the hearing that he hoped law enforcement and the judicial system would let the issue rest because his client successfully has completed treatment to overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol.
“John is one of the few people going through the system that has gotten his life back together,” Smith said. “I wish they would let it drop instead of harassing him.”
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