Credit and Debit Card Users Need to Monitor Their Accounts
Skimming Devices Found on Local Gas Pumps
The Grand Junction Police Department is asking people who have used debit or credit cards recently at area gas stations to closely monitor their accounts. Today we were alerted to “skimming” devices that were found inside three separate gas pumps, each at a different gas station. “Skimming” devices are used to obtain account information, including pin numbers, from credit and debit cards. The “skimming” devices could not be seen from the outside because they were wired inside the machines.
The GJPD learned of the devices after a maintenance worker at a gas station in Fruita found a device in one of the machines. Two others were found in Grand Junction after other machines were checked. Officers are going to each gas station in the City to notify them of what we’ve found and to have the station owners check their machines.
At this time we do not know how the devices got inside the machines or how long they have been there. If you have used a debit or credit card recently at a gas station in the Grand Valley you will need to closely monitor your account for any fraudulent charges. If you do not find any fraudulent activity in the coming weeks or months you do not need to do anything. If, however, you find someone has accessed your account please stop by the police department to complete a fraud packet and file a report.
If anyone has information about this crime 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.
“The purpose is to try to shed some light on history.” -Jerry Blaine
Jerry Blaine doesn’t sit still very well. After he and his wife moved back to Grand Junction in 2003 to supposedly retire for good, it didn’t take long for Jerry to spark a new project to work on, one that now has him on a nationwide book tour and in a couple of weeks on televisions everywhere for a Discovery Channel program.
“We fantasized when we started this that this is what it would be,” says Jerry.
What “this” is is the overwhelming response to a book Jerry wrote detailing the events surrounding the Kennedy assassination. For the past 47 years, Jerry, a former Secret Service agent who worked under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson, as well as the other agents working the Kennedy detail have remained silent on the issue; incredibly silent.
“We didn’t talk at all about this with each other…. After the assassination we didn’t have trauma counselors. Everyone was left to work it out on in their own way and we didn’t know the impact it would have on everybody.”
That changed in 2003. Jerry began reading and researching the assassination on the internet where he found one conspiracy theory after another.
“And I couldn’t believe what I was reading.”
That disbelief turned into inspiration, and Jerry’s book was born. A reunion eventually brought the 8 agents who were on the Kennedy detail at the time together again, with The Discovery Channel there to capture the moment.
Although Jerry has been a GJPD Victim Advocate, or VAP, for about a year now, I’ve found his interesting and historical past wasn’t all that well-known prior to the attention his book is garnering him. What’s probably even lesser known by those outside the police department is what he continues to do today to serve those in our community.
As VAPs, Jerry and his wife, Joyce, provide crisis intervention when officers request their presence at a critical incident. All of our VAPs are equipped to deal with trauma, domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse or death notification. While on scene they offer comfort to victims, assistance to the officers, and referrals to community resources for those who need them.
According to GJPD Victim Services Coordinator Mary Harmeling, “Jerry relishes his role as “driver” and enjoys observing Joyce as she interacts with the victims.”
While I was speaking with him I too noticed that he prefers to give his wife center stage when it comes to talking about how they continue to serve today. It’s pretty evident, though, together they make a great team, and they are a tremendous help to both the police department and those in our community.
Mary adds, “He has noted to me several times how valuable he believes our Victim Services unit is to the department. He and his peers in the Secret Service never got any debriefing or counseling after the shock and trauma they experienced with President Kennedy’s assassination. So they suffered in silence.”
Thanks to all of our VAPs for helping to make sure the people in our community don’t have to suffer in silence.
Jerry shared some other photos with me of his time on the Kennedy Detail.
Blast back to the past with us! See what was happening with the Grand Junction Police Department way back when…….
Wikipedia offers a detailed list of information about Bundy’s murders, including the 1975 murder of Denise Oliverson in Grand Junction, and his escapes from jail.
A couple of weeks ago KKCO reporter Tim Ciesco approached us and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office about doing a news story on the issues surrounding officers’ “use of force.” What he was looking for was “what officers evaluate when they consider using force” and what their options are. I’m hoping what Tim came away with, which based on the story he aired I’m confident he did, was how quickly that evaluation process has to be done. In a lot of incidents officers face, we’re talking seconds.
The buzz around the police department is that Tim did a good job of giving the public an idea of some of the things officers face when they respond to calls, especially when he had to try to explain a very complex issue in the amount of time he was allotted. And given the newscast is only a half hour, we knew Tim couldn’t include every single piece of information we gave him that day. In fact, we couldn’t even get to everything in this blog if we tried. Think of it this way: new recruits at the Western Colorado Peace Officers Academy go through approximately 175 hours of training on various use of force issues before they can even graduate. At the GJPD, all police officers are required to complete monthly trainings on a number of topics, and use of force issues are included in about 40 hours of that training spread out through the year.
So here are some other tidbits of information most people don’t realize when they hear about an officer having to use force when dealing with an incident:
- A 2008 FBI report indicated 58,792 officers were assaulted while on duty.
- The FBI also reports 48 officers across the country were feloniously killed in 2009. The FBI broke that number into some interesting statistics.
- 941 of the assaults wre committed by an edged weapon, such as a knife.
- According to a study done in the late 90s conducted by Thomas Hontz and Ray Rheingans it took an average of 2 seconds for a person to cover a distance of 30 feet, while the average speed of an officer to access, draw, acquire the target, and fire was 2.06 seconds. That means a person can be nearly 30 feet away and still have time to get to an officer before the officer has time to determine which weapon to use and deploy it.
- According to the FBI “there is sufficient oxygen within the brain to support full, voluntary action for 10 to 15 seconds after the heart has been destroyed.” That means even though a person has been shot in the heart, that person may still be able to come at you for up to 15 seconds. Grab your watch and see how long it actually takes for 15 seconds to tick by.
That takes me back to the earlier comment that I’m pretty sure Tim has a good understanding of how quickly an incident can play out. We used some of the above statistics and put him, as well as three of our officers with varying years of experience, through a realistic scenario. Tim was given everything the officers have on their duty belt and was told to respond to do a welfare check on a man who was sitting in the park. That’s very representative of the types of calls our officers receive. What Tim and the officers didn’t know is the man was armed with a knife. Tim’s story has a few video clips of how he and our officers handled the situation. Here are some photos of the result of the knife attack on Tim (don’t worry, the red stuff is just lipstick we put on the fake knife so we could see where it struck him).
It should also be noted, although I don’t have photos to show you, that the three officers who went through this scenario with the exact same amount of information Tim had also received “cuts” from the knife, even though they fired their guns and likely “shot” the suspect. That means had this been real, the suspect may or may not have been killed, but the officers still would likely have received injuries of various degrees in the process. Just some food for thought.
“Grand Junction is a nice community and I would like to keep it that way! By being on the Volunteer Patrol I can do my part.” – Jim Peterson, GJPD Volunteer Patrol
Like a lot of Grand Junctionites, we here at the GJPD feel very fortunate to live in a great community. One of the biggest components of our community that makes it great is the people; generous folks who are willing to give their time and resources. The GJPD experiences this generosity each and every time one of our 60 volunteers walks through our doors.
Our good fortune is your good fortune. Thanks to our volunteers and a grant from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, we are launching our new Volunteer Patrol program. Ten of our 60 volunteers have been selected to participate and have completed training both in the classroom and behind the wheel. Their job: be extra eyes and ears for the police officers who are working to keep your streets safe. The Volunteer Patrol will help with vacation checks, surveillance, and some traffic control. More duties will be added as the program progresses, and all of the time the volunteers donate gives our police officers more time to focus on higher priority areas and incidents.
If you would like to have the Volunteer Patrol do vacation checks on your home when you’re away please call the GJPD at 970-244-3555 to schedule.
Interesting Statistic: Nationwide in 2009 police service volunteers logged 8.1 billion hours, resulting in $169- billion in savings.
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?”
“One of the main things in life is to help each other.” -Steve Gomez
People don’t often think about the amount of personnel that it takes to keep a police station running efficiently on all cylinders. Although he’s officially assigned to the Facilities Department within the City of Grand Junction, we here at the Police Department feel Steve Gomez is one of us because of all of the hard work he puts into our building as the custodian. This particular “What else do they do?” highlights the random acts of kindness Steve has made a frequent occurrence within the walls of the Department, from making sure people make it safely to their vehicles to buying dinner for hungry children while an incident is being worked.
“Maybe they’ll see this act and pass it on,” says Gomez.
Numerous employees at the GJPD can share stories about Steve. One particular occasion where these events stood out was when an officer was dealing with an incident while the witnesses, victims, and their families patiently waited in the police department lobby. There were several young children with them and the evening was dragging on. The children were not only tired, but they were hungry too. Without being asked, Gomez took it upon himself to buy food for the hungry families.
“(The kids) see these things and they never forget it,” explains Gomez, referring to someone doing something nice for them.
This isn’t the first time that Gomez has taken money from his own pocket to pay for meals for people waiting in the lobby.
“I just think, I’ve got the money right now, and I just go do it,” he says.
When asked about such random acts of kindness like these, Gomez just smiles shyly and says, “I don’t like talking about myself.” He doesn’t do these things in search of recognition, making his true kindness and willingness to help others truly commendable. Here are some other highlights of Steve’s career:
- Has been working with the City for 7 years
- Is also the custodian for Fire Station 1, but frequently helps with other areas of the City too
Other things Steve has said:
“One of the main things in life is to help each other.”
“I thought it would be different working here. People would say ‘That’s the police department!’ But everyone here is so nice.”
“It’s sad to see little kids who are hungry.”