MONTE VISTA - For the first time in months coffee with a cop was able to happen at Rain Brews. The monthly event had to be canceled over the last few months due to safety concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic. This meeting was a great opportunity for the community to come and meet their new Police Chief George Dingfelder and talk to police officer Michael Avila. Dingfelder shared that he would like to bring a different officer with him every month to the event so that the community can get to know better the people who serve them.
During the morning conversations someone asked if they had seen any affects in Monte Vista of anti-police sentiment as it is a big topic around the country. They answered sharing that they were grateful for the support they have received in the Valley. “We’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of support. A lot of it comes back to us. It comes back to us being open and available to the community as well as doing things right. It only takes one bad incident to completely change the image of your department and so it’s incumbent upon us to make sure that we’re doing things right from the very get go. And as well as admitting our mistakes,” said Chief Dingfelder adding, “We’re far from perfect and we’re going to make mistakes as everybody knows. Through good training, policies, and again at the end of the day, it’s incumbent upon us to gain that trust and to keep that trust.”
Chief Dingfelder was also asked what his plans were for the community as its new Police Chief. “I don’t necessarily have an agenda nor should I have an agenda. This isn’t about me about what I want to accomplish. It’s not about me putting a stamp on a resume or something like that. This is about what’s good for the community and what the community wants,” answered Chief Dingfelder later adding, “Because we do work for the citizens plain and simple.”
Chief Dingfelder was also asked what the most positive thing he sees about the people of Monte Vista. Chief Dingfelder answered saying, “Going back to the 25 years that I’ve been around here, this sense of pride and sense of community. I grew up on a ranch in the middle of nowhere Montana and those rural values, lifestyles, I’ve talked about those before. You get them as soon as you come into Monte Vista. You get them as soon as you come into the San Luis Valley.”
Officer Avila was asked what he saw as the most positive change that Chief Dingfelder is putting into place. Officer Avila answered saying, “One of the things I noticed when Chief Dingfelder started was that he goes out on calls with us. He likes to get out there and see what we do and it’s just nice to have him out there and just kind of have him want to learn from us.”
Dingfelder shared that he has yet to not be in uniform since starting as Monte Vista’s Police Chief. “Just because you have a title doesn’t mean you’re not still able to get your hands dirty. Plus I need to know exactly what they’re dealing with and I guess feel their pain as well. There’s times when with the whole pandemic, it’s very uncomfortable going and wearing masks all day long and dealing with stressful things and stuff like that. It’s very uncomfortable but I need to experience that, and the only way to do that, is to be on the ground with them,” said Chief Dingfelder.
In addition to starting Coffee with a Cop back up Neighborhood Watch meetings are also scheduled to resume Monday, July 20, at 6 p.m. at the Monte Vista Chamber of Commerce building.