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?”
The Flamin Coconuts and the Cops Against Cancer 2011 Relay for Life teams
Cops, 911 Dispatchers, and the numerous civilians who make up our local law enforcement agencies are busy people. This post isn’t about preaching about how tough their jobs can be and how hard they work, rather it’s about the dedication these people have to the community they live in and how much they are willing to give back on their own time.
June was a particularly impressive month. Take the annual Fruita and Grand Junction Relay for Life events to raise money for the American Cancer Society, for example. The events require teams to have at least one representative walking on the track during the entire 17-hour events. The “Flamin Coconuts”, a team made up of 911 dispatchers and friends raised more than $1300 for the Fruita event. “Cops Against Cancer”, a team made up of area law enforcement agencies raised more than $2600 for the Grand Junction Relay for Life.
“Being a part of Relay gives you the opportunity to be around others who are battling cancer and others who have had that loss in their lives,” said O’Leary. “It was my first year walking the survivor lap and it was an inspiring moment for me. Then there was the lighting of the luminarias, which is a solemn event where we honor those lost and those fighting. I have never had an experience like it and it left me with new hope for a better tomorrow.”
There are others in our department who have also been personally touched by the causes they supported last month. For “Flamin Coconuts” Team Captain Cozett Davis, the team formed in honor of a fellow dispatcher that is a cancer survivor, as well as a dispatcher that cared for her husband until his passing due to cancer, and for others who have lost loved ones to cancer.
“It brought us as a group together, doing what we could for the cause,” she said. “This was something new for us, we have never been involved in anything like this before. Next year we hope to raise more and get more dispatchers and families involved.”
The charity fundraising didn’t end with the two relays. A charity go-kart race last month ended up raising money for Wounded Warriors, while also honoring true heroes in our community. And then came the arrests, although the GJPD employees who were cuffed were happy to be thrown in the slammer in this case. The annual Muscular Distrophy Association’s “Lockup” put several of our employees behind bars, forcing them to work the phones to raise enough “bail money” to spring them free. These events combined to raise hundreds more dollars for our community.
As you can see we’ve been up to a lot more than just writing tickets, although we’re still out on the streets patrolling and detectives are still piecing together clues to solve crimes. And that’s just for June; we still have a lot of activities planned for this summer and fall before we start gearing up for our annual holiday activities that benefit a number of the kids in the Grand Valley.
“Being able to share with others and to work along side hundreds who are fighting the same fight you are is a miracle to see. If just one dollar of what we raised helps one life, it’s completely worth it,” adds O’Leary.
Come out and see us at the August 11th Farmer’s Market on Main St. for a “Touch-a-Truck” event. We’ll be bringing all of our special unit vehicles for you to climb in and out of, as well as important safety information. Hope to see you there!
It’s Time to Sign Up for National Night Out 2011
Throughout the year local reporters will be working on stories related to some sort of crime that has happened in a neighborhood, be it a series of burglaries, vandalism, assaults, or a gamut of other topics. Thankfully, Grand Junction remains a relatively safe place to live and raise a family, but that doesn’t mean we are completely crimes free. That fact leads reporters to frequently ask, “What can people do to prevent these crimes?”
While a 100% guaranteed, sure-fire way to prevent you from becoming a victim of crime doesn’t exist, there are ways to dramatically lower your risk. One of those prevention tools is coming up in August, and registration is already underway.
Neighborhoods across the City of Grand Junction are getting ready for this year’s National Night Out. The 28th annual event is being held on the evening of August 2nd, and signing up to host an event in your neighborhood is easy; just head to http://www.gjcity.org/ and look for the National Night Out link, or call 244-3630. You can even check to see if someone is already planning to host an event in your neighborhood and get great tips on how to make your event a huge success!
National Night Out is a nationwide, annual event in which people are encouraged to turn on their outside lights, lock their doors, and head outdoors to spend time with their neighbors and to promote safety and crime prevention in their neighborhoods. Police officers and fire fighters make the rounds that night, stopping by each event to answer questions from neighbors and give advice on how to keep the criminals out of your neighborhood. But the cops and fire fighters are only an added bonus. One of the best ways to keep the crooks out is simply to get to know your neighbors. If you know who is and isn’t supposed to be in your neighborhood, and if you watch out for your neighbors and they watch out for you, then you are taking great steps to making your piece of the City safer. A lot of crimes are prevented because a neighbor notices something on their street that doesn’t seem quite right and that person calls 911 to report it.
Not only does National Night Out help people prevent crime, it’s a lot of fun too. Grand Junction neighborhoods tend to plan a lot of great activities for kids and adults alike. In te past we seen events ranging from cookouts, to bump-n-jumps, to ice cream socials. We’d love to see what you and your neighborhood are up to this year!
What: 28th annual National Night Out
When: The evening of August 2nd
Where: In neighborhoods across Grand Junction
How: Sign up at http://www.gjcity.org/ or call 244-3630
Summer is officially here, and the long, warm nights are welcoming lots of fun activities in Grand Junction. Unfortunately for some area young people, those activities are coming at a heavy price. Already this month the GJPD had responded to two serious accidents involving young people. In both, alcohol is suspected of playing a role in the crashes.
On Sunday, June 12 a 19-year-old rolled his vehicle on I-70, ejecting him from the car. He sustained serious injuries. On Monday, June 13, two young adults, ages 20 and 19, were seriously injured after the driver crashed the vehicle they were in into a tree near the intersection of Greenbelt Ct. and South Rim Dr. Investigation of both of these crashes led officers to believe the drivers were under the influence of alcohol when they crashed.
“Summer is just heating up, and unfortunately for some area young people, their decisions to include alcohol with driving have come very close to taking their lives,” said GJPD Traffic Sgt. Doug Norcross. “With more events where alcohol is served still to come, including Country Jam this week, we hope everyone plays it safe and smart. Drinking and driving can be deadly.”
Drivers also need to remember that we are in the middle of “100 Days of Heat.” Local law enforcement agencies, including the GJPD, have stepped up their efforts to catch drunken drivers, and DUI checkpoints are scheduled for the area throughout the summer. The public is also encouraged to call 911 if they see a person they suspect is driving drunk.
Last October we blogged about what it means when a person labeled by the State of Colorado as a sexually violent predator (SVP) moves into town. Today we began notifications to the community that another SVP, 30-year-old Christopher Stubblefield, will now be living in Grand Junction. With these new developments we have noticed comments from the public that make it apparent there is still some confusion regarding SVPs and what the law requires, so we thought it would be a good idea to repost some of the information from the previous blog:Originally posted Oct. 21, 2010
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.
On Friday, June 17, Mesa County Cable Channel 12 will air information about a sexually violent predator who will be living in Grand Junction. The approximately 20 minute program will air at 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, and 10pm. Local media will also receive information about the SVP on Friday to share with the public. Those living near the new address of this SVP will also receive notification by mail.
A list of all registered sex offenders living in Mesa County, including a map of their locations, can be viewed on the websites of all of the police and sheriff agencies in Mesa County, or by visiting www.mesacountyunifiedsexoffenderregistry.org