I have been your Chief of Police and fellow Monte Vistan for about a year and a half now and have a few thoughts to share with you that are very important regarding the current state of affairs in our town and which could have a great impact on our future. While I donít quite understand the exact timeline of events, sometime over the past 20 years or so drugs and drug distribution by loosely affiliated street gang members have intertwined into the fabric of this community and, at times, created quite an unsavory place to work and live. Our rate of violence is much more akin to a large city than a rural agricultural community and our drug and alcohol addiction rate is as high as one could find anywhere. Our property crime rates, most fueled by drug and alcohol addiction, are several times the national average for a city of our size. The question posed to me since the first day I arrived has been, ďSo what are you going to do about it?Ē After becoming familiar with the situation and assessing the problem, I can only offer one response. ďStand up Monte Vista: Itís time to take your town back!Ē
Perhaps the greatest tools criminals have are fear and apathy. Fear instilled in victims that there will be retaliation if they talk and apathy that what happens to someone else is their problem. Both of these elements have become deeply rooted in our community and are steadily diminishing our quality of life. Of the 4,444 citizens in our community, nine out of 10 are hard working, law abiding, salt of the earth people. Another nine percent or so are people with substance abuse, mental health, domestic or other issues that make them have frequent business with the police and other components of the justice system. The remaining one percent are petty drug dealing thugs who have our community convinced that they have some sort of standing and should be feared and or respected. For the sake of the future of Monte Vista, that cannot remain the case. So stand up Monte Vista: Itís time to take your town back!
Many years ago I planted my first lawn in Colorado. However, all I could seem to grow was weeds. I asked the gentleman at the garden shop how to keep weeds from growing in my yard. He said you have to have a tight knit stand of grass that does not give weeds a place to grow. The same notion holds true for a community. The respectable citizens must stand together and not give the drug dealers and gang members a place to grow. Your civic leaders and I have re-introduced a neighborhood watch program that is the catalyst for many things to come in our community. Fear and apathy are the enemies of any civic improvement program and have to be overcome before we can move forward. There are many more good people in this town than bad people, and it is time for the vast majority of our community to focus on the good people in our community and displace the bad. Stand up Monte Vista: Itís time to take your town back! The members of your police department and I are here to help you do it, one neighborhood at a time.
Jim Grayson is the Monte Vista Chief of Police.