by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — Walsenburg Police Chief James Chamberlain and staff have complied the department’s annual report and it was included in the city council packets in time for the Tuesday night meeting this week.
“As we enter 2013, we are working within increasingly difficult financial constraints, as is the rest of the city,” Chamberlain said in the report. “We plan to hire a new officer as soon as practical, as WPD Officer Rich Isnetto was recently hired by the Sheridan Police Department, leaving us one officer short. We will continue to strive to provide the best possible services to the community given these limitations and challenges, with the safety our citizens being our top priority,” Chamberlain said.
The 10-page annual report said the department had 10 sworn officers providing service in 2012, and the department received approximately 4,312 calls for service generated through phone calls to Huerfano County Emergency dispatch, walk-in reports, officer initiated activities, request for assistance from other agencies and other methods of reporting. “These calls for service resulted in the generation of 947 case reports, penalty assessments or summonses during the year,” Chamberlain said.
According to the report, the case report load handled by the WPD in 2012 was almost twice that of the Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office, which has a total of 12 sworn deputies. The report noted city police provide 24-hour on-duty service, while the sheriff’s office does not. The report also says the WPD has one additional full-time employee who splits time between municipal code enforcement and animal control duties.
The report highlights the policing duties of former officer Buddy Townes, Jr. and also addresses awards, commendations and letters of commendation won by officers in 2012:
•Sgt. Joseph Hibpshman received a life saving award for his response to a shooting; Cpl. John Salazar II, Officer Adam Ashby, and Officer Isnetto also received life saving awards for performing CPR in separate incidents. Salazar received a department commendation for assisting with a case in which three fugitives were located and apprehended within the city. Lieutenant Kurt Liebchen and Cpl. Joseph Deatherage received letters of commendation for their quick actions in a pursuit. Officer Joshua Berzanji received a letter of commendation for his response to a domestic dispute in which he negotiated with an upset, suicidal man until he surrendered his weapon. This was an incident that happened on Interstate 25 and was also responded to by Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office personnel.
The chief said in the report, “In 2012, crimes against people, crimes specifically against children, and crimes against property increased. Reports of all other types of crime decreased overall, although in some categories of crime there were still individual increases noted for a specific type of crime. Crimes against property are still by far the most reported type of crime in our community, followed by offenses against public order and crimes against people,” Chamberlain said.
Annual statistics at a glance:
• crimes against people 133/2011 ~ 162/ 2012
• domestic violence 59/2011 ~ 56 / 2012
• crimes against children 13/2011 ~ 16/2012
• property crime 253/2011 ~ 278/2012
• financial & ID theft 85/2011 ~ 47 /2012
• public order offenses 270/2011 ~ 176/2012
• drug/alcohol 318/2011 ~ 66/2012 It was noted in the report Officer Townes was responsible for several notable drug busts, as well as the apprehension of several people for DUI or otherwise impaired. “Drug and alcohol related offenses dropped dramatically in 2012, in part due to the departure of Officer Townes, who specialized in detection of these types of crimes,” the chief said.
• juvenile crime 48/2011 ~ 37/2012
• municipal violations 35/2011 ~ 26/2012
• traffic violations 592/2011 ~ 336/2012
• K9 calls 53/2011 ~ 33/ 2012
• shelter dogs 102/2011 ~ 88 /2012
• arrests/summons/ warrants 860/2011 ~ 523 /2012
Gary M. Vezzani was elected Walsenburg’s mayor in Tuesday’s special mayoral election/recall vote. Preliminary results announced Tuesday night show that both Nick Vigil in Ward