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When a Sexually Violent Predator Moves to Town

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This week there have been a couple of different pieces of news regarding sexually violent predators (SVPs).  It kicked off when we started spreading the word an SVP wanted out of Wyoming was believed to be in Grand Junction.  42-year-old Edward James McCabe had an active warrant for several counts of Sex Assault on a Child and left Wyoming without notifying the proper authorities as required by law in that state.  Working with the Lovell, Wyoming police department we were able to determine he was in our area, we just couldn’t find an exact time and place where he would be so we could pick him up.  It turns out, though, the heat we were putting on him during our search here was enough for him to head back to Wyoming, where the Cody, WY police department got a tip on his location and arrested him.

McCabe received the label Sexually Violent Predator by the courts because of his convictions.  While he is no longer here, there are now a total of 3 SVPs living either in Mesa County or within the Grand Junction city limits; the newest one just moved in this week.  There are some differences between SVPs and other registered sex offenders.  An SVP is a sex offender that also meets criteria set by the state and who has had an assessment done that determined they are at a higher risk of reoffending.  Whenever they move to a new area or change addresses the agency whose jurisdiction they are living in is required by law to notify the public.  That’s why you will see us alerting the media, posting information on websites, calling community meetings, or placing informational programs on Cable Channel 12 with information about SVPs.

So, do you need to be more worried about an SVP as opposed to any other registered sex offender?  Yes and no.  Assessments show SVPs are more likely to reoffend, which is of course a concern, but the requirements placed on SVPs are more strict in regards to how often they have to check in with law enforcement.  For example, here at the GJPD SVPs are required to check in with the person who manages our sex offenders every week, regardless if they are still under supervised probation or parole.  That’s in addition to periodic address checks we do throughout the year.  And remember, every time they change their address, we send out a notification, which is not true for other sex offenders.

What about protecting yourself and your family?  There are several things you can do- most importantly know who’s living around your home, your place of work, and your children’s schools.  That’s easy to do, thanks to a team effort by all of the law enforcement agencies in Mesa County.  We’ve created a single website that lists every registered sex offender living in the county, including SVPs.  There are pictures and a map, and you can search the site a number of different ways.  Both the Grand Junction Police Department and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office have a link to an educational video about SVPs too.  The only catch is state law does not allow us to put the names and pictures of people with juvenile or misdemeanor convictions on the website.  While the site will let you know if those types of offender are living in your area, to get their name and picture you’ll have to stop by the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction for that address.

Kids need to be educated too.  Let them know if there’s a house in your neighborhood you don’t want them playing in front of, or if there’s a neighbor you don’t want them to trick-or-treat at.    Don’t let them go door-to-door for fundraisers.  And, when your kids are out, know who they are with.  What most people don’t consider is most sex offenders, including SVPs, are people the victim knows.  If you ever suspect there’s something inappropriate going on with your child start asking questions and look into it.

There’s one more key piece of information you need to consider when we talk about SVPs.  The law says unless there are specific restrictions placed on them when they are sentenced, SVPs have the same right to live wherever they want, just like you do.  We as a police department can’t regulate that.  So, if an SVP does move into your neighborhood, and you don’t like that, you still don’t have the right to harass, threaten, or intimidate the offender or the offender’s family.  There’s a major benefit to you and the community for the anti-vigilantism law- we don’t want sex offenders to go underground and hide.  If we can continue to have our sex offenders register their addresses and places of work with us, then we can keep track of them and know where they are.  That gives you as a member of the community more power to make informed choices, and that is exactly what we want.

If you ever have questions regarding sex offenders, feel free to stop by the police department at 625 Ute Ave. or call us at 970-244-3555.  The Colorado Bureau of Investigation also offers information on the web regarding sex offenders.

“What Else Do They Do?”- Sgt. Lonnie Chavez

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When you ask someone what a person who works for the police department does, you’ll likely get a response of “they arrest people” or “they write tickets.”  We can’t argue with that.  But, with 180 employees within the Grand Junction Police Department, both civilian and sworn, there are many folks here who do amazing things for our community and our police department- beyond just making arrests or issuing tickets.  We want you to know about some of these people.  We hope you’ll enjoy this insight into some of the work being done as we answer “What Else Do They Do?”

“I just do my stuff, and I’m happy to be here.”

Out of the tens of thousands of law enforcement officers in the entire state, coupled with all of the civilians in Colorado who are working to end domestic violence, Grand Junction Police Sgt. Lonnie Chavez stands out from the rest.

When Sgt. Lonnie Chavez was promoted to his current rank he received an assignment that would help shape the work he does today, work that resulted in him being one of two people in the entire state to receive the 2010 Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence “Make a Difference Award.”

Sgt. Chavez was tasked with looking at the victims of domestic violence cases and seeing how many times they go back to their offenders.  Sgt. Chavez began documenting the cycle of violence and looking for ways to help those involved in the highest number of incidents.

“It can be frustrating when the victim doesn’t understand the cycle they’re involved in,” said Sgt. Chavez.

But that doesn’t mean Sgt. Chavez gives up on those victims.  Instead, he works harder, teaching younger officers how to go beyond the appearance of a situation and to dig deeper into what is really happening with each domestic violence incident they respond to.

“I want to bring more information about domestic violence to the police department,” Sgt. Chavez adds.  “I want to help our people feel more comfortable when it comes to making decisions when they respond to calls, and to look at the history of the relationship and what it can mean for the present case.”

This award is a nice recognition of the years of work Sgt. Chavez had dedicated to the fight against domestic violence.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Has been a member of the Mesa County Domestic Violence Task Force for the last 3 years
  • Started teaching at the Western Colorado Peace Officers Academy (police academy) in 2007
  • Is an instructor for the Domestic Violence Academy, which is an annual 2-day training for professionals in the industry
  • Teaches basic and advanced domestic violence and sex assault courses

Things Sgt. Chavez has said about what he does:

“Work against domestic violence is such a female dominated area that I think it’s good that I can offer a different perspective.”

“I keep learning, even as long as I’ve been working with domestic violence cases, that there’s an amazing amount of resources out there for victims.”

“You don’t hear about domestic violence a lot in the news.  It’s an uncomfortable crime to talk about.  But, I can guarantee nearly everyone has been affected by domestic violence or knows someone who has.”

“Receiving the award is very humbling, it’s something I didn’t expect.”

Flying with the Veterans

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On October 5th and 6th GJPD Commander Greg Assenmacher had the privilege to be a guardian for two Grand Valley World War II veterans as they traveled on the latest Honor Flight.  Commander Assenmacher was gracious enough to share a few of the many memories this trip created for him and the 106 veterans.

As I awoke this morning, Tuesday October 12th, I couldn’t help but reflect on my experience last Tuesday (Oct 5th) as be part of the Western Slope Honor Flight.  The mission of this group is transport our country’s World War II veterans to Washington D.C. to visit memorials dedicated to their honor, their service and their sacrifice.  As a nation our debt to these heroic men and valiant women may never be repaid, however I saw an expression of gratitude to these heroes throughout our trip, and came away with many more stories than I have room to share with you here.
On the evening of October 5th a Brigadier General assigned to the Pentagon came out to speak with the vets at dinner.  Although I am sure his career keeps his schedule full, he took the time to be with the Honor Flight veterans to share a few personal stories of his childhood life growing up in Salida, Colorado and how he was inspired by their generation and later felt a sense of pride to serve our country as well.  For him, it was an honor and to come out to see these men and woman and to pay tribute and salute them for fighting and winning the most devastating war in American’s history.
At each Memorial (WW-II, Korean, Vietnam)  visited the following day by these veterans I witnessed the American people who were there as tourists, including girl scouts, high school field trips, and citizens pay tribute to these vets by thanking them, hugging them or giving them personal hand made cards expressing their thanks and appreciation.  These simple ways of saying thanks for their service had such an impact on me that I cannot even imagine the full impact their small tributes made on the veterans.
During our return flight back to Grand Junction the Veterans had a “Mail Call”, just like their military days, in which they received packets of letters from students, City & County officials and family members recognizing them for their service and how they inspired future generation to come.  Upon our landing these Vets were greeted by more than 100 police and fire officers and another 400 plus community members who came out to honor them in a special ceremony in the terminal at the airport.  While the marble structures, statues and stars of the D.C. memorials were impressive, the heart warming welcome back to Grand Junction is a memory that these men and woman will never forget.  So, as a guardian on this flight and seeing first hand the tribute paid to these men and woman, I’m proud to be part of such an event and a member of a community who made this two day trip (35 hours) so special to “The Greatest Generation” of Americans who emerged from the depression and triumphed in a war allowing us the freedom and individual rights we enjoy today.

Do You Know Where These Two Men Are?

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Juan Martinez
Miguel Martinez

The Grand Junction Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating two men wanted in connection with an investigation into an assault that escalated to two men being run over by a pickup.  Just before 2:00 this morning, police were dispatched to the Tequila’s Bar on Hwy 6 & 50 for an assault.  When the first officer got to that area he found two men with traumatic injuries near the Carl’s Junior restaurant.  Officers also found a woman who had injuries to her face. 

 The investigation at this point shows 23-year-old Miguel Martinez of Grand Junction assaulted the woman and then got into a truck driven by his brother, 29-year-old Juan Martinez, also of Grand Junction.  Witnesses say the men were driving around in the area and ran over two men.  Those two victims suffered serious injuries and were taken to St. Mary’s Hospital. 

 GJPD Detectives have obtained arrest warrants for both Miguel Martinez and Juan Martinez.  Miguel faces a 3rd degree assault charge which is a class one misdemeanor.  Juan’s charges include 2 counts of attempted 2nd degree murder and 2 counts of vehicular assault. 

 We are asking for anyone who may know where Juan and Miguel Martinez are, or who knows where we can find the vehicle they were in, to call 242-6707.  The pickup is a 2003 gold Dodge truck with Colorado license plate 588 TDM. 

 At this point we have not been able to identify one of the men who were run over.  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 a tip to CRIMES (274637) with the word TIP729 in the message.  The identity of the person providing the information will remain anonymous.

Get Rid Of Your Unwanted Prescriptions

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Clean out your medicine cabinet and get rid of your unwanted, unneeded, outdated, or just plain useless prescription drugs THE SAFE WAY.  This Saturday, September 25, the Grand Junction Police Department is taking part in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.  From 10 am to 2 pm you can drop off unused, expired medications with absolutely no questions asked.  There are several locations throughout the Grand Valley, including the GJPD at the corner of 6th St. and Ute Ave.

There’s a good reason we’re doing this.  Having a bunch of prescription medications lying around people’s homes is a leading cause of accidental poisoning, overdose, and abuse.  In fact, some pharmaceutical drugs taken without a doctor’s prescription are just as dangerous as taking illicit drugs.  Here are some stats for you:

  • According to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health the non-medical use of prescription drugs ranks second only to marijuana as the most prevalent category of drug abuse in the U.S.
  • That same survey found more Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those abusing cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined.
  • The 2009 Monitoring the Future Survey found one in ten 12th graders use the narcotic Vicodin for non-medical purposes.
  • The 2008 Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey showed the majority of teenagers using prescription drugs got them from family and friends, including from their home medicine cabinets.

The best part about this program is you don’t have to pay anything to participate.  Simply stop in at a participating location, put your unwanted medications in the box, and walk out.  You’re done.  There are some things we cannot accept.  See a full list of those items and the complete list of participating locations here.

Welcome to the GJPD Patrol

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You’ve likely heard it said a million times, “Communication is key.”  That is something the Grand Junction Police Department truly believes in.  Whether it be in the middle of a critical incident we are dealing with, or in the middle of a critical issue facing our community, good communication is the key to having an effective police department that truly serves you and our great city.  That is why the GJPD is launching itself into the world of social media.  Our goal is to give you firsthand information and updates on the things we think are important for you to know, as well as the things we think you’ll be curious about.  You’ll have the opportunity to learn about some of the inner workings of this department and get a chance to hear about the many activities we’re involved with that don’t get covered in the news.

This also gives us a chance to hear directly from you.  We look forward to reading your comments, hearing your concerns, and learning about the things that interest you as well.  This is a two-way street and one more tool to keeping us in touch with you.