by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — On a daily basis police officers carry with them, mentally and physically, the tools they need to do the job well.
Equipment issued to the officer is visible to anyone, but there is so much more to what an officer needs to do the job than the items hanging from a duty belt. There is of course, the knowledge gained from time in the academy, on-the-job-training and experience on the streets. But there are also human qualities, like patience and compassion, that officers need to develop within themselves to be able to handle the varied day-to-day calls they must answer.
Last month, Walsenburg police were called to investigate an incident involving an at-risk adult client of Southern Colorado Developmental Disabilities, Inc. Police Chief James Chamberlain assigned Sgt. Garry Hornsby to the investigation.
Kathy Brown, of that agency, on July 24 wrote a letter to Chamberlain praising Hornsby’s actions in that investigation. “On behalf of our agency, I would like to commend both Sergent Hornsby and yourself for the demonstration of compassion, confidentially, and professionalism show to us recently in light of the difficult and later tragic situation that our agency, Southern Colorado Developmental Disabilities, Inc. incurred.
The letter discussed the police response to a possible situation that happened earlier that month when staff realized they had a possible abuse situation that had taken place in one of the agency’s host homes.
Brown wrote, “Sergeant Hornsby was the perfect officer to hand this difficult case. He stepped in and started his investigation with the utmost professionalism. He was patient, competent, and thorough in talking with all key stakeholders related to this incident. It is our opinion that how this situation was handled was key in helping to render some plausible suggestions of what happened.”
Hornsby investigated a possible small burn that had happened to the 22-year old male client in a host home in Walsenburg, that may have been caused by the husband of the young man’s day care provider. The care provider had taken the young man to SPRHC where the burn, believed to have been caused by a lit cigarette, was evaluated. The small superficial burn on the client’s right wrist was healing well with no sign of infection, according to information in Hornsby’s report. No medical treatment was necessary and the client was removed from that care provider’s home to reside with family members in the area.
Hornsby prepared a possible case against the husband of the care provider, for review by the district attorney’s office. Charges could have been third degree assault against an at-risk adult, which is a class six felony in Colorado.
The case did not ever reach the point of filing of formal charges due to the unexpected death of the possible suspect.
In her letter to the police chief Brown concluded by saying, “It is very comforting to know that in this place in time with so much unrest going on in our environment that we have a high quality police department functioning in our community. We truly are thankful once again for Chief Chamberlain and Sergeant Hornsby to be available to our community in times of need. Please know that they are appreciated and very respected.”
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