Your car was broken into, but you don’t have time to get down to the police department to file a report. Maybe you had something stolen from you and there’s no suspect information and no physical evidence left behind. How can you let the police know?
It’s easy through RIO- Report Incident Online
Hear all about it on our RIO podcast
**Important- this is not a substitute for 911. Always call 911 during an emergency.
It’s one of our most popular events- National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. We are again partnering with other area law enforcement agencies to collect unused, unwanted, or expired prescription and over-the-counter medications on September 29 from 10am-2pm. The attached flyer has more details.
Have you ever thought about how much training it takes to be able to simultaneously monitor 7 different computer monitors and multiple phone lines and communication radios, all while taking emergency information from residents and dispatching out emergency responders? It isn’t easy, but it’s critical to the safety of our community.
911 dispatchers inside the Grand Junction Regional Communication Center do this every day, and it takes a lot of training not only to get them to the point where they can do the job, but to keep their training up to date throughout their careers. It’s something we take very seriously, and our efforts to provide top notch dispatcher training is paying off.
Our 911 dispatch center is one of only 18 centers in the entire country who are certified by the Association of Public Safety Communication Officers in their “Project 33 Training Program Certification.” There are only two others in Colorado that are certified. A news release from APCO has the details, but essentially it means our dispatchers, both the brand new folks and those who’ve worked here for a while, are learning the most current techniques and meeting strict standards for handling 911 calls. We’re proud of the work they do, and proud of the service we are able to offer our community.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation that designated May 15th as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15th falls, as National Police Week. This year National Police Week 2012 will be Sunday, May 13th through Saturday, May 19th.
In the United States, about 900,000 law enforcement officers put their lives on the line for the safety and protection of others. Protection comes at a price. There are approximately 16,000 assaults on law enforcement officers, resulting in nearly 60,000 injuries each year. Over the last decade, an average of 160 officers a year have been killed in the line of duty. In 2011, 163 officers were killed in the line of duty.
On average, one law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty somewhere in the United States every 53 hours. Since the first known line-of-duty death in 1791, more than 19,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty.
Deputy Sheriff Suzanne Hopper, 40, of Clark County Sheriff’s Office in Ohio, was the first officer killed in the line of duty in 2011 on January 1. She was responding to a call and during her preliminary investigation, she observed a footprint and took out her camera to photograph it. As she was doing so, a man opened the door to his trailer and shot and killed her. She is survived by her husband, two children, and two stepchildren.
Chief Ralph Painter, 55, of the Rainier Police Department in Oregon was the third officer slain in 2011. He was shot and killed after responding to a local car stereo shop. A man was attempting to take a car that did not belong to him. When Chief Painter contacted the man, a struggle ensued. The subject disarmed Chief Painter and fatally shot him. Chief Painter is survived by his wife and seven children.
Mesa County’s history holds its own line of duty deaths, as two law enforcement officers have died while trying to protect their communities. Jailer Edward Innes died in 1906 after an inmate hit him in the head while trying to escape. More recently, in 2001, acting Fruita Police Chief Dan Dalley was killed in a traffic accident.
All law enforcement officers know the potential dangers of their jobs. Many family members of officers fear that horrible phone call informing them that their loved has been killed. Last year hundreds of family members lost an important person in their lives. Within the first week of 2011 there were 13 children were left without either a father or mother due to the deaths of Chief Painter , Deputy Hopper, and one other fallen officer.
• Monday, May 14– Flag Ceremony at Mesa County Sheriff’s Office– 8am
• Monday, May 14– Mesa County Commissioners Proclamations- 9am
• Tuesday, May 15– Memorial Vigil at the County Building– 7:30pm
• Tuesday, May 15- City of Fruita Proclamation– Fruita City Hall- 7pm
• Please wear a blue ribbon throughout the week and shine a blue light on your homes and businesses as we honor those killed in the line of duty.
For more information about the men and women of law enforcement who have been killed in the line of duty visit:
On Saturday, April 28, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., local law enforcement agencies will be working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to safely and legally get rid of your unwanted, unused, and expired prescription drugs. The Grand Junction Police Department, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, Palisade Police Department, and the Fruita Police Department all will be participating in the fourth National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
One of the main reasons local law enforcement is participating in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is because of the major rise in prescription drug abuse. By participating in this event you can save lives by helping decrease the amount of prescription drugs that fall into the wrong hands.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2008 more than 36,000 people died from drug overdoses, and 20,044 of those deaths were due to prescription medications. Of those, 14,800 were from narcotic painkillers. That amount is nearly four times higher than it was a decade ago. In fact, more people die in America a year from prescription drug abuse than cocaine and heroin combined. And, it’s sometimes harder to find prescription drugs being used illegally because it can be harder to determine if they are in fact being abused.
“Prescription overdoses are an epidemic in the U.S.,” says Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC. Most people who die from prescription drug overdose are taking someone else’s medicines, he says. “Medicines that were left in the medicine cabinet. Medicines that were given to a friend or a relative. Maybe innocently, maybe maliciously.”
Grand Junction isn’t immune to these problems. The Western Colorado Drug Task Force, which the Grand Junction Police Department is a part of, comes across people abusing prescription drugs just as often as they do illegal drugs. And, although prescription drug abuse is most often seen in younger generations, we do come across older people abusing them too.
Common Prescription Drugs Abused include:
- Pain Killers ( Examples: OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin)
- Anti Depressants (Examples: Xanax, Klonopen)
- Muscle Relaxers
Recently area school resource officers have also seen a spike in the number of cases of younger people abusing over-the-counter cold medications, commonly called Triple C’s and Robo-ing, too.
Perhaps what’s even more alarming is that the Drug Task Force has been noticing poly-drug use, which means using more than one drug at a time. Prescription drugs, illegal drugs, even alcohol and caffeine, are often used together in various combinations. Poly-drug use can be extremely dangerous because people do it to counteract the different effects of the drugs they are taking, or to enhance the high they get from them. However, the combinations can be extremely destructive to your body and sometimes even make your heart stop beating.
People often think that prescription medication can’t be bad for you because a doctor has prescribed it, but when people are abusing the drugs they aren’t being used as prescribed, and that’s where the danger is. If you are someone who has been prescribed medication, you need to do your best to prevent abusers from getting their hands on it. Abusers are willing to steal from family and friends, even go through the trash to find medicine. Kids will go through their parents’ medicine cabinets, or go to friends houses and go through their medicine cabinets. You need to do everything possible deny access to your medication.
How to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse:
- Lock your medicine cabinets
- Sit down and talk to your kids about the dangers of prescription drug abuse
- Get involved in the lives of your loved ones
- Properly get rid of unused or expired medications by taking advantage of Prescription Drug Take Back Days
For the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 28, there will be four locations for the public to drop off their unused and unwanted prescription drugs in Mesa County. Those locations are:
• Grand Junction Police Department (625 Ute Ave.)
• Mesa County Sheriff’s Office (215 Rice St.)
• Fruita Community Center (324 N Coulson St.)
• Palisade Police Department (175 E 3rd St.)
Help make our wonderful community a safer place.
Additional information can be found on the following websites:
On Saturday, April 28, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., local law enforcement agencies will be working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to safely and legally get rid of your unwanted and unused prescription drugs. The Grand Junction Police Department, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, Palisade Police Department, and the Fruita Police Department all will be participating in the fourth National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
This national event seeks to prevent pill abuse and theft. On this day, local law enforcement and the DEA will be collecting potentially dangerous, expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for destruction. The service is free and anonymous. Simply stop by one of the listed locations and put your medication into the collection box, no questions asked.
During the first ever National Take Back Day, which was held on September 25, 2010, a combined total of 204.6 pounds of prescription drugs were collected by the agencies in Mesa County. Since then, area residents have disposed of hundreds more pounds of unused medications through this popular program.
This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. The DEA states many Americans are not aware that medicines in their home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are increasing at alarming rates, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends.
A very nice man by the name of Walter stopped by the police department this morning. He wanted to share a piece of mail he received recently that included an “Award Notification Final Notice,” claiming Walter had just won more than a million dollars in the Spanish Sweepstake Lottery Program.
I was worried that I was going to have to break the bad news to Walter, but quickly realized he’s one sharp guy. Throughout our brief conversation he made several comments that let me know I didn’t have to worry about someone fooling him, such as, “I know I didn’t win anything, I never bought a ticket,” or “I’ve been around long enough to know you don’t get anything for free,” or “I’ve worked too hard for my money to be falling for something like this.”
Unfortunately, for all too many people, these types of scams do work, which is why there are so many of them going around. If the scammers weren’t getting people’s money, then they wouldn’t be wasting their time sending these scams around. We get multiple reports a week from people letting us know they received “a strange phone call,” or “something suspicious in the mail.” That’s why each and every one of us needs to be alert to possible attempts to steal our hard-earned money.
I’ve included a copy of the “Award Notification” Walter brought in. He said if it helped keep even one person from becoming a victim then his trip down to the police department was well worth it. Walter also said he’d spread the word with family and neighbors, in hopes of making sure they don’t become victims either. That’s very helpful too.
We also have an array of information on our website about scams we see in our area and what to do if you do become a victim: http://www.gjcity.org/Financial_Crimes_Investigations.aspx
Like Walter, we hope that you too will share this information with family and neighbors. If you do receive something similar to this in the mail, simply tear it up and throw it away. Or, if you get that phone call that just doesn’t seem right and it sounds like someone is fishing for information, simply hang up. You don’t have to report it to us unless you actually give out your personal information or do have your money stolen. We’re just hoping that by spreading the word we can help prevent that from happening in the first place.
Grand Junction Police Traffic Officers have heard a lot of reasons: “I was turning up a song on the radio”, or “I dropped my burger and wasn’t watching.” The problem is the number of rear end crashes in our city is becoming a big problem, and officers responding to crashes are hearing these very things from drivers on the streets of Grand Junction all too often.
In 2011 there were 483 rear end crashes, which is about 50% of all crashes. Traffic Unit Sergeant David Stassen has heard many excuses as to why rear end accidents happen.
“Cell phones, playing with the radio, dropping a CD, spilling drinks or food, and talking to the person in the passenger seat are excuses we hear the most,” Sgt. Stassen says. “Texting is a main cause for a lot of these crashes, but people know better than to tell us that.”
To bring down the total amount of rear end crashes, which happen when drivers are following other vehicles too closely or they are not paying attention while driving, the GJPD is stepping up our enforcement in the high crash areas. The three major enforcement areas are the entire length of North Avenue, the entire length of F road, and Highway 6&50 from Mesa Mall to 1st Street. The majority of crashes happen in these three corridors.
“We are going to be writing tickets for following too closely,” Sgt. Stassen said. “Our lasers can measure the distance between vehicles. The rule of thumb for being too close to the car in front of you is one car length for every 10 miles per hour.”
Another way you can tell if you are too close to the car in front of you is by picking a point on the roadway in front of you. When the car in front of you goes over that point begin counting for two seconds (one-one-thousand, two- one-thousand). If you cross the point before you get to two-one-thousand, then you are too close.
So, who’s getting into these types of crashes? The majority, by far, involve younger drivers, ages of 16-20. People 25-34 are the next highest age group, followed by people 55-74.
The good news is it’s fairly simple to prevent rear end crashes, and crashes overall. All you have to do is pay attention to your driving. Don’t talk or text on your cell phone, don’t eat while driving, don’t mess with your radio or iPod. Just pay attention and leave plenty of space between your car and the car in front of you.
If you don’t, and you do end up crashing into the car in front of you, you could face a fine of $177, and even worse, you run the risk of injuring yourself, your passengers, or someone in another vehicle.
“When you think about it, it’s just common sense,” adds Sgt. Stassen. “Unfortunately, too many drivers are in too big of a hurry, are thinking about too many things, or just have some very bad habits. So, you have to ask yourself, is crashing your car worth all of that?
Learn more about the GJPD Traffic Unit and the monthly “Traffic Law Highlight” by visiting http://www.gjcity.org/Traffic_Unit.aspx.
You’re probably seen it on television- a crime scene investigator in a white coat, bending over a lab table with only a desk lamp lighting the room, pulling fingerprints out of thin air. It makes for some great TV, as evidenced by a number of very popular television shows on the air right now. If only reality allowed us to do half the things CSIs can do on TV.
That’s not to say there aren’t some very interesting and hi-tech jobs being done by our real life CSIs. For example, Trent Rundquist, a Grand Junction Police Department employee since 2007, is now certified by the International Association for Identification (IAI) as a Crime Scene Investigator. He passed the written test and recently received his “official” letter and certificate.
This was a personal goal of his that he started working on last year. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) only requires Rundquist to be certified by the IAI as a Latent Print Examiner, which according to the IAI website there is a 63% pass rate for Latent Print Examiners and only 870 in the world that are certified. But Rundquist didn’t want to stop there, which is why he took on this extra challenge for a job that he says he absolutely loves.
“It’s fun. No day is the same and it’s challenging. I love challenges. I want to be the best I can be at what I do,” he says
There are three criminalists who work for the Grand Junction Police Department. Rundquist works as the Latent Print Examiner and the other two deal with chemistry, biology, and controlled substances.
Thanks to a partnership with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, our criminalists have state of the art equipment to help them in their work. This partnership began during the summer of 2008 when the GJPD criminalists moved in with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after that agency built a new facility in Grand Junction.
GJPD Laboratory Sergeant Dave Oswalt said, “We decided to team up with CBI because they were bringing a lab to Junction. The lab we had wasn’t the best.”
Our criminalists handle GJPD cases first and then they branch out to the other agencies. Because of the partnership, it’s not uncommon to find GJPD criminalists working alongside CBI investigators at their crime scenes.
“It is a good opportunity for our criminalists to gain some good experience and knowledge,” adds Sgt. Oswalt.
“The move helped the police department out money wise and helped CBI by giving them more man power,” Rundquist said. “We now have the opportunity to get with people who are in the same field as us, which is really nice.”
So, how do these guys jobs compare to what we all see on television? Rundquist said it’s common to be at a scene for at least 12 hours, not solving the entire case in one hour. He also wishes that the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) worked like it did on TV- where you put the fingerprint in the system and it brings up the person’s drivers license.
The AFIS does bring up a list of possible matches, and then Rundquist has to go through each person and pick out the correct match. His work is then checked out by another person. This process can be as short as couple of days or it can take a couple of weeks.
“No one rolls up to a scene in a humvee wearing stilettos. You also have to have a lot of knowledge in small things, like photography and math skills. We are always measuring blood spatter and bullet trajectories,” Rundquist said. “Never will I be at a scene for 10 minutes and find one piece of evidence that’s going to solve the case. It’s nothing like you see on CSI and all of those other shows.”
Rundquist adds he also gets a laugh at how dark the labs are on the TV shows. In this profession you need as much light as possible. But hey, we can’t all work in Hollywood.