MONTE VISTA - Coffee with a cop had their first meeting of the new year Wednesday, Jan. 8. Along with Police Chief John Rosecrans, three officers were also able to attend some of the meeting before they received a call for service and had to leave. The officers who attended included Sargent Michael Martinez, School Resource Officer David Pino, and Officer Chris Donaldson who recently joined the Monte Vista Police force. Chief Rosecrans shared with attendees that for the first time in years they are close to being fully staffed.
“It makes such a big difference to have people to back you up, and people to fill in for you,” said Chief Rosecrans adding, “If you have enough officers you feel like you can be a lot more proactive too. It doesn’t feel like one case takes up everyone on staff.”
Chief Rosecrans and the officers shared some of what last year looked like for the police department and how they feel heading into 2020.
“Last year was a pretty good year. This year I think we’ve seen right off the bat that it’s going to be a good year,” said Sargent Michael Martinez.
Last year was a busy year for the department and they participated in several community engagements. Some events they had last year were an Easter egg hunt, bicycle safety rally, coffee with a cop, National Night Out, outdoor depot K9 fundraiser, and a K9 fundraiser golf tournament. Other events they helped with were stampede, Monte Vista high school’s homecoming parade, Adams Street Block Party, Octoberfest at Ski Hi, Veterans parade, and the holiday festival parade.
In 2019 the police department had 12,852 calls for service. This is a significant decrease from 2017 when they received 16,470 calls, and 2018 when they received 14,606 calls.
“This is interesting. While calls for service are going down crime reports are going up. We were taking more reports but were actually called for service less times. I think that makes sense because of how we changed doing business. The fact that we are identifying more things,” said Chief Rosecrans, “A crime event could be four or five different crimes at one time or it could be one single call for one crime. For example you might have a domestic violence where the guilty party breaks the person’s phone, won’t let them out of the house, and there’s some sort of assault. That’s one call for service but that’s three crimes. I think the officers are better at identifying and dealing with those crimes, and that is very effective.”
Chief Rosecrans also added, “I really don’t think crime is up, I think it’s how we’re identifying crime. It’s the fact that people feel safer to call us and become part of the reporting system.”
Chief Rosecrans also shared how the police department has been able to reduce burglaries by 50 percent over the last three-year period. In 2016 there were 58 burglaries committed. At the end of 2019 that number had dropped to 31 burglaries.
There are also more officers on the street. Rosecrans shared that when he started at the police department there were only eight cops on the street. Now they have 13. “That doesn’t sound like a huge number but that is significant when you’re talking 24/7, 365 days of service. Eight cops barely span day shift for a week,” said Chief Rosecrans. He also shared how it is difficult for the police department to catch crimes in progress. “That’s why we need your eyes out there and for you to be willing to call us. That’s why the neighborhood watch is such a big deal to me. I think the only way for us to really be effective is to have the 5,000 other eyes instead of just our 26 eyes. That is what’s going to make the difference. You guys watching and paying attention and not being afraid to give us a call. That’s a big deal.”
Neighborhood watch has regular meetings every month. Their next meeting will be Jan. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Chamber of Commerce. Chief Rosecrans shared that they hope Dr. Walker of Rio Grande Health will be able to come and give a presentation on the current opioid crisis. They invite and encourage anyone in the community to come join them for an informative evening.