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Officers, residents help make 2012 safe, fun year for city of Durango

As December sets to close 2012, it is a good time to reflect on the year and talk about how things went.

The year started off with a new leader at the helm of the Durango Police Department. Chief Jim Spratlen celebrated one year in office in June, and two captains and a lieutenant celebrated one year in their new appointments in June and July. With all of this change, one thing remained consistent: the dedication of the men and women serving the police department and their commitment to serve and protect the residents of this community.

The command staff members are very proud of all officers working at the police department, and we canít thank them enough for their hard work, dedication and daily sacrifices to help keep Durango a great place to live.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of many members of the community, the department celebrated many successful events this year.

It started with another successful and safe Snowdown. Event organizers have a long-standing partnership with the police department, and public safety always is a top priority.

Then came a hot and dry summer, and then many wildfires in the area. In July, residents were advised of a fireworks ban. As tough as that was, you followed the ban and understood when the city had to cancel its fireworks display. We had no fires as a result of Fourth of July fireworks.

After that, we had the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. This event was controversial in reference to the number of spectators; however, the police department and the city were prepared to handle large crowds. The event was without incident and was safe for spectators and riders alike.

Then came Ignacio Bike Week. Although we didnít have many events planned for Durango, bikers stayed here and enjoyed the downtown atmosphere. Most bikers were respectful of law enforcement, and this event also went off without incident. We had no fatal motorcycle accidents during this weekend.

Durango Connect was thrust in there along with national attention during the election. First lady Michelle Obama made a campaign appearance here, followed by an appearance by Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan. The police department worked closely with the Secret Service and Capitol Police, and both of these events were safe for all involved.

After all of that, we had the unsanctioned Zombie March and Halloween festivities to plan for. This year went much better and was much safer than last year, resulting in few arrests. We want to thank Fort Lewis College staff members and faculty, as well as the students who helped make this a safe event.

These events required extensive preplanning and organization from the department so public safety was maintained. While all of these events were taking place, we still were fighting crime.

We arrested three sexual assault suspects, several suspects for child pornography, several car burglars, a ring of thieves who stole property from a family suffering a great tragedy, several thieves (one of which used her grandchildren as a distraction) and hundreds of drivers for DUI.

As great as this department is, we still understand that none of this is possible without the support we receive from this community. Thank you, and enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.

Lt. Ray Shupe is assistant operations division commander with Durango Police Department.

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