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The Morrison Police Department began responding to calls on May 1, and things have been relatively quiet since then.
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Previously, the Morrison Police Department had not been fully staffed since August 2020 when George Mumma left the department.
The town hired Misty Siderfin as its new chief in July 2021, but she left just three months later stating she was “unable to continue within this role due to the limited resources, lack of financial stability and budgeting for the police department, demands for the police department to support its own budget, lack of transparency and extremely low numbers of quality applicants for the current vacancies.”
Siderfin was never able to staff a full department, despite raising starting officer salaries from $43,000 to $55,000 annually.
In February of this year, Morrison hired Bill Vinelli. Within less than a month of his hire, he had fully staffed the department that had not had a full crew since August 2020. Chief Vinelli was the former Deputy Police Chief at Florence Police Department. His team is composed of people he has worked with in the past.
Spending a quiet Wednesday riding along with Sergeant Josh Sweeney and Officer Ariana Isom was a perfect opportunity to learn some of their highlights as members of the force.
Sgt. Sweeney has been in law enforcement for 15 years. Before joining, he was a bouncer with off duty Denver Police Officers who convinced him to join the police force.
He spent 6 months in Burlington, 5 years in Salida, 8 years in Florence, now he starts his new chapter as a Sgt. in Morrison.
Throughout his service, Sweeney said, “I’ve gotten to do all kinds of neat things.”
He has worked on a SWAT team, been a driving, SWAT and active shooter instructor, and has fulfilled many other roles during his time in the police force.
One of Sgt. Sweeney’s funniest calls was responding to a DUI years ago.
“One of my first DUI stops–it was a car full of people driving on the railroad tracks, and when I got there he [the driver] was sitting on the lap of the passenger and claimed the driver ran,” he said.
Officer Ariana Isom spent two years as a Colorado State Trooper, two years as a Corporal in Florence and now starts her chapter in Morrison.
Officer Isom has extensive experience with traffic incidents from her time as a state trooper, and is a level 3 crash investigator. She said she enjoys the math behind a crash.
“I like math–a crash can end up being like a puzzle–there’s different equations you can use,” she said, referring to how you find out speeds drivers were going and other factors in the accident.
Officer Isom’s main goal through her service is treating people with respect.
“It’s all about how you talk with people and how you treat people,” she said.
She hopes that even when she needs to issue a citation, people come away from the situation feeling safe and heard.
“My ultimate goal after a call: you want people to say thank you,” she said.
The Morrison Police Department is now fully staffed, and residents can expect to see them out and about.
Chief Vinelli said the force has been met with overwhelming positivity from the community. He is working to restore the relationship the community has with local police.
“I hope to accomplish the public trust again,” he said.
Chief Vinelli also hopes to throw out the old reputation of Morrison being a “speed trap.”
“We are police officers like in any other city doing our job,” he said. “We’re not ticket based revenue funding for our department.”
Since the local force has not been out in past months, they have written a few tickets in their first few weeks on patrol. The chief says they have given far more warnings, however.
“The tickets aren’t the most important goal we have, what we are doing is contacting people that are speeding,” he said.
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