Walt Vanatta: Police Beat for March | CraigDailyPress.com

Walt Vanatta: Police Beat for March

Walt Vanatta

— The Police Department responded to 1,370 requests for service in March and Community Service responded to 168 requests for service.

Crime of the month

Most notable of the DUIs involved a series of incidents with one driver who was “just trying to get home.”

The driver did not succeed and luckily no one else was injured or killed along the way. The beginning, naturally, started with the drinking, then the driving.

Bad driving, in fact. Surprise.

First a hit and run with a parked car on Yampa Avenue, which would have been solved eventually, considering the driver left behind their front bumper and license plate. Next, after managing to make it onto W. Victory Way, the driver ran over two traffic signs and hit a light pole, but continued on their way.

It is about this time than an officer is in the area and spots this activity as it occurs, seeing debris on the roadway (which by then included the rear license plate) and observes the suspicious vehicle.

The officer knows that something is amiss because of the sparks that are clearly visible as the vehicle moves along in the night. Those revealing sparks often happen when someone is driving their vehicle on the axle.

This often happens when you manage to completely separate your tire and wheel from the vehicle axle during the course of several encounters with other objects such as parked cars, signs and light poles.

Needless to say, the driver was contacted and arrested for his “adventure,” but only after officers had to quickly back away during the stop to avoid having their patrol cars hit when the suspect began backing up.

(Written by Sergeant John Forgay)

A sign of the times

• A Craig business discovered that an employee was trying to be creative in their work at the cash register. The result was the apparent embezzlement of several thousand dollars. An investigation was initiated and a felony warrant has been issued for the departed employee. He’ll be welcomed back with open arms, or at least an open jail cell.

• Officers responded to a call about possible illegal activity occurring at an apartment. In contacting a resident, they discovered that he was wanted in another jurisdiction on the Front Range. In addition, the person was in the United States on a visa, which had expired in 2004. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement was notified.

• Scams continue to be brought to the attention of law enforcement and the majority is the results of warnings and education rather than someone falling prey to the criminals. However, one Internet scam was costly to a resident who thought he was helping someone he knew.

The request, via the Internet, was to provide money to enable the person to leave a foreign country, Nigeria (the red flag is waving). They even sent a large check to the citizen to be placed in his personal account and the funds wired by Western Union to the stranded friend.

Unfortunately, after the transaction, the bank notified the citizen that the check was counterfeit.

The crooks won this one.

Code enforcement

As you will recall, during the 2009 Budget Workshop, the council approved replacing the part-time code enforcement position with a full time one. This position was added as a Community Service Officer. We reorganized the Community Service Section, which now has three officers, so that they all are responsible for animal control and parking and code enforcement.

By cross training the officers in all three areas, we have greatly enhanced our enforcement efforts.

You will notice the results in March’s activity. By making these functions a “unit” responsibility, we can take a more proactive position for parking enforcement, especially handicap parking and code enforcement issues.

March calls

Community Service Officers Connie Davis, Kathie Johnson and Josh Martinez handled the following calls during the month of March:

• Spoke to the owners and red tagged 23 abandoned vehicles. Two vehicles were towed.

• Nineteen code violations. The owners were spoken to and will bring the property into compliance.

• Six junk/trash violations. The owners were spoken to and will bring the property into compliance.

• Six warning tickets for parking violations issued.

• Eleven parking tickets were issued.


The sergeant promotional process took place Jan. 28 to fill the position vacated by the resignation of Dusty Schulze. Corporal Corey Wagner, detective Ken Johnson and officers Tony Fandel and Alvin Luker applied for this position. Wagner was selected for this position, effective March 1.

• Now that the promotional process for sergeant is complete, two officers need to be selected for the positions of corporal, vacated by Wagner, and All Crimes Enforcement Team detective. Detective Johnson will be transferring back to his regular detective position that he held before being temporarily transferred to ACET.

• Officer Alvin Luker was appointed to the position of corporal/FTO, effective April 1. Officer Bob Brabo was transferred to the investigations section and assigned as the ACET officer, effective March 23.

The Citizens Police Academy began March 12. Graduation is scheduled for May 21.


On March 11, all sworn officers attended firearms training in Craig.

March 16 through 20, officer Tony Fandel attended less lethal/flash sound diversion device/chemical agent-instructor certification training in Chicago.

On March 18, sergeant Brian Soper attended management’s rights training in Loveland.

On March 25, commanders Bill Leonard and Jerry DeLong; administrative sergeant John Forgay; sergeants Brian Soper, Corey Wagner and Marvin Cameron; records manager Dixie Beck and I attended an organizational effectiveness retreat in Craig.

On March 30, sergeant Marvin Cameron, corporals Brian Gonzales and Alvin Luker and officers Frank Schmedeke, Eric Montes, Norm Rimmer, Lance Eldridge and John Meyers attended drugs that impair driving training at the Moffat County Public Safety Center in Craig.

Upcoming events

On April 11, the Police Department participated in the Celebrate Children’s Fair at Centennial Mall. An officer was there handing out child identification kits.

DARE graduation is scheduled for April 30. At this time, it is unknown where this event will take place due to the construction at Craig Middle School.

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