May 10th-16th Recognized at National Police Week #GVCopBeat

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NPW2020_logo_digital-rgb_transparent_smallIn 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day, and the week in which that date falls as Police Week.  Law enforcement agencies around the world spend this week recognizing the contribution of officers who serve their communities each day, as well as honoring and remembering those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Typically, there are numerous events throughout Mesa County to recognize this week.  We host Coffee with a Cop events. Our Honor Guard presents a formal flag ceremony.  There is always a ton of food around, and we have several events that are intended to raise money for the Special Olympics of Colorado.  This year is obviously much different.  Given the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be a very quiet week.  And that is okay with us.  It will allow us to focus on what the week is truly about; honoring law enforcement around the world who have been killed while serving their communities.

According to the Office Down Memorial Page, there were 146 line of duty deaths in the United States last year.  Three of those officers were from Colorado; Sergeant Joshua Eli Voth, of the Colorado Department of Corrections; Corporal Daniel H. Groves, of the Colorado State Patrol; Master Trooper William James Moden, of the Colorado State Patrol.

Often, during this week, we have local businesses and community members who want to thank their officers by providing food or cards.  While we are so grateful for that kindness, this year we would encourage that generosity to be directed toward any of the local agencies who are helping our community in recovery efforts from this crisis.

If you’d like to recognize our officers this week, as well as honor those who have given their lives in service, consider putting a blue light bulb in your porch light.  Put a sign in your window, thanking officers for their service.  Share a wave or a kind word when you see an officer out on patrol.  If you drive by the Police Department, you’ll see our banner hanging outside.  It’s lovely at night, when it’s lit up by blue lights.

Next year, we’ll hopefully be able to come together again to honor all who have dedicated their lives to this profession.  This year, we hope you’ll join us in a humble remembrance of all those who have gone before us.

Officers Attempt to Contact Armed Suspect, Flees on Foot #GVCopBeat

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At approximately 6:00 p.m. officers with the Grand Junction Police Department responded to a call in the 2900 block of Patterson on reports of a potentially armed suspect. The suspect was reported to be on foot and heading towards the Lucky Me Convenience Store, located at 2902 Patterson Road.

When officers arrived at the convenience store, they made contact with the suspect, who they were able to determine was armed with a handgun. The suspect fled the convenience store on foot and was non-compliant to the verbal commands of the Grand Junction Police Officers who were attempting to take him into custody. After failing to gain compliance of the armed suspect, officers deployed 40mm less lethal impact rounds, striking the subject. The suspect continued to be non-compliant and an officer discharged a taser, striking the subject to gain compliance and take the suspect into custody.

The subject was arrested and transported to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries. During this incident, Patterson Road was shut down in both directions, out of an abundance of caution.

The investigation remains open and officers with the Grand Junction Police Department will continue to conduct interviews of the events that took place.

GJPD K9 Merlin Receives Donated Body Armor #GVCopBeat

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Grand Junction Police Department’s K9 Merlin has received a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. The vest was sponsored by Team Wendy and embroidered with the sentiment “This gift of protection provided by Team Wendy”.

MerlinVested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c(3) charity located in East Taunton, MA whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States. The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provided over 3,500 U.S. made, custom fitted, NIJ certified protective vests in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a value of $6.9 million dollars.

The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.

The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $950.00. Each vest has a value between $1,744 – $2,283, and a five-year warranty and an average weight of 4-5 lbs. There is an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States. For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information, lists events, and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at http://www.vik9s.org or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.

Rumor Control: No Documents Needed for Essential Travel in Mesa County #GVCopBeat

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CIRT horizontalLocal law enforcement wants to be very clear; NO documents are needed to go to work or for essential travel under the Stay at Home order in Mesa County.

We have received questions from the community asking if critical employees traveling to and from work need an official document to prove they do in fact work for a critical service.

  1. No, you do not need a document of any kind. Neither law enforcement nor Mesa County Public Health are issuing such documents.
  2. If you are a critical employer, thank you for working during this time. You do not need to issue a document to your employees.
  3. The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, Grand Junction Police Department, Colorado State Patrol, Fruita Police Department and Palisade Police Department are NOT stopping people driving out in the community specifically in regards to the Stay at Home order.
  4. Law enforcement is operating under the presumption people who are out in the community are doing activities that are necessary and permissible under the Governor’s Stay at Home order.

This also applies to people who are traveling for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store, picking up children from childcare, taking care of a loved one, getting medical care, etc.

For the full list of what is considered a critical business and essential travel under the Governor’s Stay at Home order, click here.

Law enforcement personnel around the Grand Valley are seeing daily examples of cooperation, compliance, and compassion in our community.  We are grateful to serve such a thoughtful and supportive community.

Update to Officer Involved Shooting #GVCopBeat

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Two Grand Junction Police Department officers were involved in an officer involved shooting on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.  Both officers, along with two deputies from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, discharged their weapons.

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Officer Thomas Nelson

Officer Thomas Nelson is a patrol officer who started with our agency in 2013.  Officer Nelson’s collateral assignments include defensive tactics instructor and field training officer.

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Officer Tom Wihera

Officer Tom Wihera joined the Grand Junction Police Department in 2016.  Officer Wihera currently serves as a patrol officer, with collateral assignments of field training officer and SWAT operator.  Officer Wihera is also a veteran of the United States Navy.

As is standard protocol with any officer involved shooting, both officers are currently on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of an internal investigation, which takes place separately from the criminal investigation being conducted by the 21st Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team.  This incident remains under investigation by CIRT.  Information previously released regarding this incident can be found here.

CIRT Activated to Investigate Officer Involved Shooting #GVCopBeat

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image-2Shortly after 7:00pm on Tuesday evening, March 17, 2020, officers with the Grand Junction Police Department were dispatched to a report of a felony menacing that occurred on Orchard Mesa.  The reporting party stated that an adult male subject had brandished a knife and a gun at a group of juveniles who were playing basketball at Orchard Mesa Middle School.  The male was then reported to have gone inside a nearby residence in the 300 Block of 27 3/8 Road.

Multiple officers responded to the area, including several Mesa County Sheriff’s Office deputies who arrived to assist.  Officers were able to identify a possible suspect based on the information they obtained on scene.  Attempts to reach the suspect by phone were unsuccessful.  Law enforcement also attempted loud hails, ordering the suspect out of the house.  A shelter in place notification was sent out to 126 contacts for registered addresses in the area.  At one point, the suspect exited the residence with what appeared to be a firearm.  The suspect failed to comply with orders from officers and, ultimately, was shot by law enforcement on scene.  No officers were injured.  Officers rendered aid until medical personnel arrived on scene.  The suspect was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased.

The Mesa County Coroner’s Office will be responsible for releasing the identity of the deceased, as well as the cause and manner of death, after appropriate notifications have been made.

As with all officer involved shootings in Mesa County, the 21st Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team comprised of representatives of the Grand Junction Police Department, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, Fruita Police Department, Palisade Police Department, Colorado State Patrol, 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Colorado State Parole and Colorado Bureau of Investigation, is responsible for the investigation of this incident.

Members of the Critical Incident Response Team will conduct interviews of witnesses and involved persons in this case over the coming days. Additional details will be released as appropriate, with sensitivity to the ongoing investigation. The Grand Junction Police Department and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office will be responsible for releasing the names of their involved personnel. The officers will be placed on administrative leave, as is standard protocol.

Anyone who witnessed this incident, as well as anyone who has security cameras that may have captured all or part of these events, is encouraged to contact the Colorado Bureau of Investigation at (970)248-7499.

No further updates are expected to be released before Friday, March 20th.

Crash Involving GJPD Patrol Vehicle #GVCopBeat

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At approximately 4:40pm on Friday, February 21, 2020, officers with the Grand Junction Police Department were dispatched to a report of a two vehicle traffic crash at the intersection of N. 7th Street and Ute Avenue, involving a GJPD patrol car.

Although it’s very early in the investigation and all facts are not yet know, the preliminary information indicates that the GJPD patrol SUV was traveling northbound on N. 7th Street when it was broadsided by a passenger vehicle traveling westbound on Ute Avenue.  The collision caused the patrol vehicle to roll onto it’s top.

The sole occupant of the passenger car was a male driver who reported no injuries.  The patrol car was occupied by two GJPD officers.  The female officer who was driving was able to exit the car on her own.  The male officer who was traveling in the passenger seat had to be extricated by emergency personnel with the Grand Junction Fire Department.  Both officers were transported to the hospital to be evaluated; however, no serious injuries have been reported at this time.

Traffic is blocked in all direction at the intersection of N. 7th Street and Ute Avenue, and will remain closed until further notice.  The cause and contributing factors of the crash are still under investigation.  We will share more details as they become available.