Top Notch Dispatcher Training

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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.

Do Your Part to Help Curb an Epidemic

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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:


Curbing Rear End Crashes

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GJPD Traffic Unit- Motorcycle Team

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.

Real Life CSIs

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GJPD criminalists and investigators at a crime scene

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.

GJPD Criminalist Trent Rundquist looking for evidence

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.

Are You Watching for Icy Roads?

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It’s Time For Drivers To Be On Alert For Icy Roads

With the start of cold weather in the Grand Valley, drivers need to remember that icy road conditions may exist, even if it’s not snowing.  In just a couple of hours this morning Grand Junction Police Officers and Grand Junction Fire Fighters responded to more than a half dozen crashes throughout the city.  Four of those crashes happened on the 5th St. bridge, and drivers going too fast for the icy conditions and sliding into each other played a big role in causing those accidents.  Luckily, there were no major injuries in any of the crashes.

 Drivers need to remember that bridges often become icy even when the rest of the roads around town are clear and dry.  Shady areas are also places where we frequently see crashes due to ice.  Remember to slow down and leave plenty of space between you and the vehicles in front of you, so that you can avoid sliding into other cars or objects.  Drivers also need to make sure to scrape ice and frost from their vehicle windows before they begin driving.  Drivers can be ticketed for having their view obstructed by windows that they can’t see out of.


Bradley Sinclair Robbery

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Bradley Sinclair Armed Robbery

Case # 11-55091


GRAND JUNCTION, Colo –  The Grand Junction Police Department is investigating an armed robbery that took place just after midnight this morning.  Officers were dispatched to the Bradley Sinclair at 201 North Avenue after an employee at the store called 911 to report she had been robbed at gunpoint. The suspect was gone before they arrived.

An employee of the store told officers a man walked into the store, pointed a gun at her, and demanded money.  The suspect description is a white man, 5 feet- 8inches tall, between 18 and 25 years old, wearing a light colored plaid hoodie, a dark beanie style hat, and an orange bandana over his face.  The man then took off on foot with some cash and cigarettes.

 Officers immediately set up a perimeter and brought out a K9 to attempt to track the suspect, but they were not able to find him.

 If anyone has information about this incident they can call the Grand Junction Police Department at 242-6707, call Crime Stoppers at 241-STOP, send the information via the web at www.241stop.com, or text CRIMES to 241STOP and include your tip information. 

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Real Men Speak Out Against Domestic Violence

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On the heels of a fun race this weekend to raise money for Latimer House, GJPD Sgt. Lonnie Chavez, who is very involved with the fight against domestic violence, will be one of the men featured in the Mesa County Domestic Violence Task Force’s new campaign: Real Men Speak Out Against Domestic Violence.

We are grateful for all of the work Sgt. Chavez does for our community, and hope you will be able to see the unveiling of this campaign on Friday, Oct. 7th at the Mesa Mall.  It will include a gallery of portraits from 16 prominent men in the community, including Sgt. Chavez.