Commendations for Rangely PD/dispatch

RANGELY | Rangely Town Manager Lisa Piering told the board of trustees Tuesday they are invited to attend the Moffat County Affiliated Junior College District Board of Control meeting on Oct. 21 in Craig to show support for CNCC President Ron Granger, whose leadership has been under scrutiny by some members of that board.

During reports from council, Trustee Granger reported that Colorado House Representative Perry Will will be attending a community networking meeting at CNCC on Oct. 28 in a “town hall style” meeting. Lunch will be provided, and the public is invited to attend. If you are interested in attending, you can contact Keely Ellis at CNCC.

Chief of Police Ti Hamblin said the Rangely Police Department (RPD) has been very busy. There has been an increase in cases as opposed to last month and that “cases take a lot more time and effort.” The department is still taking applications for the open lieutenant position, are starting to look to fill the sixth patrol officer position, and there is a part-time dispatcher position available as well. RPD assisted with Septemberfest festivities. Chief Hamblin attended a sex assault investigator class and a background investigator course. Officer Jesse Leech attended an ATV instructor class which they will be offering to Rangely youth in the coming weeks. Officer Connor was gone for a week serving in the National Guard. The RPD taught several subjects at the CNCC National Park Ranger Academy. An officer assisted with the CNCC SGA Hoedown. Chief Hamblin said officers were invited to have lunch at Eagle Crest with residents and that they will be doing that again in the future and would like to do it monthly. RPD attended school crisis training hosted by CNCC and Hamblin said it was a great training and agencies from all over western Colorado participated. Chief Hamblin thanked dispatchers for helping to make the bike rally a success.

Chief Hamblin read a prepared statement to the council in regard to a Sept. 10 incident. Officer Leech was dispatched to a report of a suicidal female with two large knives. Officer Leech and Chief Hamblin arrived on scene and the suicidal female was in front of her residence. Officers spent approximately two hours trying to convince the woman into putting down the knives and complying with their requests, to no avail. Mental health workers were called in to assist, but the woman refused to speak to them. Due to her demeanor, threats of suicide, being armed with two large knives, and “the look on her face,” officers were concerned she would hurt herself, others, or make law enforcement hurt her.

When she transferred both knives to one hand and picked up her cell phone while leaning on a vehicle parked in front of the residence Officer Leech and Chief Hamblin made a nonverbal plan to end the standoff. Chief Hamblin picked up a nearby stool and offered it to the woman so that she could sit down. Officer Leech also approached. She ignored both officers. Chief Hamblin used the stool to pin the woman’s hand that was holding the knives to the truck and Officer Leech was able to subdue the individual and place her in handcuffs. Neither officer or the woman was injured in the disarming. According to Hamblin’s statement, Officer Leech went above and beyond the normal call of duty by putting himself directly in harm’s way to peacefully disarm the woman. He took this action with no hesitation or concern for his own safety. Without his quick response and actions, this situation would not have come to a peaceful ending.

Dispatcher LaDonna Carlson was the dispatcher on duty. Carlson was vital in relaying information during this call to all first responders. She voluntarily stayed past her shift to ensure vital information was passed along to her relief dispatcher for the safety of officers and the female party. When dealing with the distraught grandmother of the suicidal female, Carlson showed a level of empathy and understanding that cannot be taught, Hamblin read. Dispatcher Jason Vanden Brink was also vital in relaying information during this call to all first responders. Vanden Brink showed poise as the call was already in progress as he arrived at work. Without hesitation he put his training to work and handled the call as a seasoned dispatcher would have done. Vanden Brink and Carlson’s calm and steady voices over the radio also helped this situation come to a peaceful conclusion.

On Sept. 11 Chief Hamblin spoke to the grandmother of the suicidal female and said she thanked RPD for their actions. The grandmother stated her granddaughter acknowledged that her behavior could have resulted in her being killed by law enforcement and expressed to her grandmother she was grateful that Rangely officers handled the situation the way they did. Chief Hamblin expressed his thanks to Officer Leech, Dispatcher Carlson and Dispatcher Vanden Brink for the way that they handled the call. He said, “their poise under stress never faltered, they served their community that evening with the highest level of integrity and dedication.” On behalf of the RPD and the Town of Rangely, Chief Hamblin presented letters of commendation to Officer Jesse Leech, Dispatcher LaDonna Carlson and Dispatcher Jason Vanden Brink. Trustees and meeting attendees applauded the employees as they accepted their letters.

“Ti, I believe you had a big part in that, you did a great job,” Piering said.

The Golden Spade winners for August were Elaine Urie, Lonnie LeBleu and Jose Crushshon. The Tank’s last concert is scheduled for Oct. 23 at the Rangely Jr./Sr. High auditorium. Piering noted that the Business over Breakfast event will be held on Thursday, Oct. 10 at the Blue Mountain Inn and the CNCC Murder Mystery Dinner will be held this Saturday, Oct. 12. There will be a review of the flood plain at the Rio Blanco County Commissioners meeting Piering said she would be attending. They will be presenting for the CCI grant Oct. 15 . Chevron will be giving $4,000 towards emergency responders and the town will use it to finish their door project at Town Hall.

Trustee Robie asked about the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) possibly fining the Rangely Fire Department for cutting a fire line during the Gillam/Columbine Park fire last week without gaining approval first. After some discussion Piering said she would contact BLM about the matter.

During new business the September 2019 check register was moved for approval by Robie and seconded by Geer. After clarification of the Highlands Ranch Law Enforcement Training line item for $2,400, which was a refresher course for new Officer Von Block, the motion passed unanimously. Chief Hamblin added that Officer Block will be on duty as of Oct. 19. The 2020 draft budget was moved for approval by Granger and seconded by Geer. Piering said that capital projects will be more challenging financially to the town. The draft budget includes a new headworks building and cost of living increase for employees. The next Rangely Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m.

By Roxie Fromang | Special to the Herald Times