Police wrap up results oriented year

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By Carol A. Clark

A lengthy list of initiatives implemented at the Los Alamos Police Department since Police Chief Wayne Torpy took the helm in early 2005 have continued throughout 2007.

This year, Los Alamos is one of just a few states initially invited to use the Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LInx) developed by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. LInx allows operators to input data by suspect name, alias, address, telephone number, or illegal act and to access relevant information from all participating agencies through the national data warehouse.

In 2007, police set two principal priorities – lowering traffic accidents and burglaries, Torpy said. To address traffic accidents, the department implemented the Strategic Traffic Enforcement Plan or S.T.E.P., aimed at reducing both traffic accidents and citizen complaints by targeting dangerous driving behaviors, and directing specific enforcement efforts at high accident locations around the county.

Det. Doug Johnson shared statistical information collected by the department, which shows a significant drop in accidents. "Reportable traffic accidents continued trending downward in 2007," Johnson said. "Initial figures indicate a 40 percent reduction in reportable traffic accidents since 2005. This is thought to be due to several factors including continued targeted traffic enforcement of those places and behaviors commonly involved in accidents, and cooperation with Los Alamos County's Traffic Division to assess potentially dangerous deficiencies in roadways."

The second area addressed in 2007 by the LAPD, theft related incidents, also dropped significantly, he said. "We attribute the dramatic decrease to increased patrol officers and their efforts in coordinating with community stakeholders such as business owners, and Neighborhood Watch participants," Johnson said. "Our initial figures indicate a 34 percent reduction in larcenies between January and November versus the same time period last year." Johnson added that in contrast, the surrounding communities of Santa Fe and Española are reported to have seen a large increase in theft related offenses in 2007.

"The numbers speak for themselves," Torpy said. "Reduction in automobile accidents and reduction in burglaries are two areas we really focused on bringing down this past year. We still have challenges we have to face including jail issues and the courts and police building issues."

Johnson praised the strong collaboration and team effort that has developed between the police, probation and parole departments for reducing and expediting local cases. "The dedicated people at the probation and parole divisions have assisted us in identifying repeat offenders and the tougher sentences passed down in our courts is moving us all in a positive direction," Johnson said.

The retirement of top officers like Capt. Wayne Byers, Sgt. Bryan Owens, Cpl. Tom Tucker and longtime police reserve officer Reid Zerkle and have been another challenge this year, Torpy said.

"I feel with the quality staff we have in place and the caliber of people we're hiring, we're going to meet all the challenges before us," he said.

Some of the year's more memorable events include a solomn ceremony in July when full police honors were bestowed upon LAPD Lt. James Keane (Ret.) during a special procession to Guaje Pines Cemetery. Keane died July 1 at the age of 79. He served the LAPD with honor and excellence through his retirement in 1987, Torpy said.

In the State versus Penny Granich, attorney John Day entered a not guilty plea for his client in First District Court on Aug. 29. Granich, 33, was indicted by the grand jury and charged with homicide by vehicle, reckless driving, and driving under influence of alcohol/drugs in the death of her husband Thomas E. Granich. The case is still pending.

A plea bargain down to vehicular homicide was entered for local teen Jesse Harvey. District Court Judge Barbara Vigil sentenced Harvey, 17, to two years detention in Albuquerque stemming from a one-car rollover in a ravine below Rendija Canyon Road on March 11 in which Harvey was driving and passenger Terry Putt, 15, died. Alcohol was determined to have been a factor in the rollover, according to police.

Carpenter Reggie Brewer, 42, was brought down by the glow of a flashlight glimmering off an inch of fishing line inside a heating duct in his home at 4214-B Urban Street. Brewer was ultimately convicted of stealing $10,000 cash from inside a safe in a local home he was repairing last December.