“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.

Honor Flight 2010 Update #1

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GJPD Commander Greg Assenmacher and WWII veterans Bert and Junior

We just got an update from Commander Greg Assenmacher, who is flying as a guardian for two WWII vets on the Western Slope Honor Flight.  He just messaged us that plane has landed in Baltimore, and the vets and their guardians are off on their whirlwind tour of the D.C. monuments.  The veterans said this morning’s sendoff was amazing and we can’t wait to hear all of their stories when they return home tomorrow evening (Oct. 6th).  Don’t forget to grab your red, white and blue and come to the airport to welcome the Honor Flight home.  It’s a guaranteed heart warming, patriotic, goosebumpy good time!  The plane is scheduled to land at approximately 6:45 pm, so get there a little early and enjoy the bands and good company from the community.  Photos from this morning’s sendoff are on our Facebook page.

Honor Flight 2010

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National World War II Memorial, Washington, D.C..
Image via Wikipedia

The ripple from World War II can still be felt across the country, but the depth of these ripples don’t get any deeper than those found in the hearts of the WWII veterans; men who put their lives on the line for freedoms that are so easily taken for granted today.

Thanks to Western Slope Honor Flight, tomorrow, October 5th, 110 of these veterans will take off from the Grand Junction Regional Airport to begin a 37 hour journey that will take them on a whirlwind adventure to the memorials in Washington D.C. that were forged in their honor and in honor of the other men and women who gave their lives so many years ago.  Tuesday’s flight will be the third trip organized by Western Slope Honor Flight, and the Grand Junction Police Department is proud to again be part of this community event.

The Honor Flight program began in 2005 when twelve veterans flew to D.C. from Springfield, OH, and has grown into a national recognition of the veterans who gave so much for their country.  Statistics from 2008 show we are losing approximately 1,000 WWII veterans a day.  Honor Flight gives these heroes the recognition they deserve.

Last May was the first Honor Flight the GJPD assisted with.  Several officers and civilian employees were on hand to help the veterans up the stairs and into the plane.  From the moment the first vet stepped onto the tarmac you could feel the goosebumps and the warm hearts.  The vets had the biggest smiles; smiles that were contagious for the officers and fire fighters who had come to help.  In fact, the plan was to only have the officers get the vets onto the plane and then they would be done, however once that was accomplished the officers decided to line up with their police cars as the plane taxied to the runway for takeoff, giving the vets a saluted send off.  And that was just the beginning of the memorable moments this event created for our employees.

“Please know that your sacrifices, and the sacrifices of those who did not make it home, will forever inspire generations to continue to make our country the best on Earth.”
-Police Chief John Camper (quote from a letter to the veterans) 

The amazing atmosphere that surrounded the Honor Flight was only magnified as the vets returned home to an airport packed with people, bands, and honor guards who came out to say thank you for their service.  Just try to imagine how much red, white, and blue there was!  That is why we hope you will join us to welcome the vets home on Wednesday, October 6th at about 6:45pm at the Grand Junction Regional Airport.  It’s your chance to feel the flood of emotions the Honor Flight brings for both the veterans and the community.

May 2010 Honor Flight

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.

He walks like a lady!

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A pair of black patent leather court shoes wit...
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 ” A real man would run a mile in her shoes.”     


During Oktoberfest on Saturday, October 2nd, the Grand Junction Police Department, along with other local organizations and members of the media, will be participating in the Men in High Heels Race for Domestic Violence Awareness.  A team of male officers along with the Chief of Police will be donning some lovely ladies shoes and hitting the pavement to see who can run the fastest without breaking an ankle.

According to the Latimer House, a local domestic violence advocacy program and shelter, there were 49 deaths in the state of Colorado last year as a result of domestic violence. 80% of those deaths involved the use of firearms.  Also last year nearly 5, 300 women and children received shelter and another 5, 400 were turned away because the shelters were full.  Domestic violence is one of the most common calls officers respond to in the United States today.  This event hopes to raise awareness about domestic violence and to let victims know that someone is there for them.   

 As a law enforcement agency, our employees deal with domestic violence related issues on a daily basis.  Officers routinely respond to domestic disputes, often involving the same couples over and over.  Our victim advocates work with those affected by this abuse, trying to get them the help they need to end the cycle of violence.  All of this, combined with the sobering statistics related to this type of crime, are the reasons our officers are willing to look a little silly to raise money and awareness.    

The Grand Junction Police Department’s high heels race team is looking for sponsors to donate for the cause.  If you would like to help, drop off your donation at the police station at 6th Street and Ute Avenue.  Then, come out to see the guys sport some pretty shoes.  The race begins at 11 am on October 2nd on Colorado Ave. between 6th and 7th St.  It’s sure to be fun to watch, and who knows, your support may end up saving someone from a lifetime of abuse. 

Update: Hundreds of Pounds of Rx Drugs Collected

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Talk about a big response! Last week we put a call out for everyone in Mesa County to drop off their unused, expired, and otherwise unwanted prescription drugs during the first ever National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.  Not only did the community respond to this new program, you and your neighbors responded in a big way.  More than two hundred pounds of prescription drugs will now be disposed of in a safe way and won’t be lying around in medicine cabinets where children or drug abusers can get their hands on them, or flushed down the toilet where they would enter our water systems.  Just at the Police Department alone we collected 138 pounds of that grand total.

It was interesting to watch and listen to the people who came by to drop off their unwanted medications at the Police Department.  For the four hours we were open for collections we had a fairly steady stream of folks coming by, often with grocery bags full of prescriptions to get rid of.  For the most part, they were some of our more seasoned residents, but not all.  What struck me the most was that even though this was supposed to be an anonymous, no questions asked way for people to clean out their medicine cabinets, most of the people who came by seemed to want to give us at least some information.  Several of the people appeared a bit surprised when we didn’t ask for their names or what kinds of medication they were dropping off.  “That’s it?” was a common phrase that morning when they handed the officer their bag and he simply said “Thank you.”

I can’t help but imagine what stories there are behind each and every one of those who came by.  I chuckled when one of the ladies, who dropped of a significantly sized bag of medications, walked up to the counter, smiled, and said “Hello, just so you know I’m not a drug dealer.”  The officer chuckled too, and reassured her he didn’t think she was.  The lady then began to share a story about her husband who had recently passed and how he had to take a lot of medications during the end of his life.  She didn’t go into a lot of detail, but you could tell she had a lot of memories to share.

There were other folks like her, and although we weren’t able to sit and talk with each and every one, we were glad we could at least provide a small service for them.  I heard several people say, “I’ve had these around for years and just didn’t know what to do with them.” Nearly everybody said “thanks for doing this, it’s a great service.”  We too say thank you.  Thanks for taking the extra step and the time out of your day to do something that will help keep these old medications out of the wrong hands.