As the new year begins, it gives me an opportunity to reflect on all that I have to be thankful for in Rifle, on what issues may impact the community in 2013, and what the Rifle Police Department can do to positively address those issues.
Two items immediately come to mind:
With the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School still fresh in our minds, school safety takes a front seat. There have been many suggestions as to what it will take to keep our kids safe. The one sure fact is that we need to be working together to create a local solution. Many efforts are already under way to do just that.
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario is hosting a countywide response conference for local first responders and educators, in an effort to begin the establishment of a countywide response protocol.
Garfield School District Re-2 Superintendent Dr. Susan Birdsey and I have started communications to ensure our response plans are synchronized. In having these conversations, it is clear that both the school district and law enforcement have already given this much thought.
School Resource Officer Marantino has been contacting our school administrators to review procedures and initiate training and drills to reinforce our local response. While it is premature to detail plans, I can say this will be a focus in 2013.
Another issue in the forefront is the effect substance abuse has on Rifle, as it has on every community in Colorado. While Amendment 64 has dominated the drug issue news of late, the passage of the initiative to legalize possession of marijuana does nothing to address the damage done to individuals, families, and the community as a result of substance abuse.
As a law enforcement officer for the past 29 years, I have seen thousands of people in crisis due to the use of drugs, and Rifle is no exception. As we move into 2013, we need to re-evaluate how we respond to this problem, with the restrictions that this new law will place on us.
I will, of course, respect the will of the voters, but I also feel that it will be more difficult for us to proactively address a problem that has an impact on all of us.
We will continue to promote education, prevention, intervention and enforcement, along with other community organizations, to try to minimize what has become a comprehensive social problem.
The Rifle Police Department remains steadfastly committed to the safety of the citizens of Rifle, and also grateful for all the support we receive. And continued community support will be critical as we move toward a safer community.
John Dyer is the chief of police in Rifle.