GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — The Coronavirus pandemic, civil unrest, and a presidential election year. These are some of the things local police cite as reasons behind a spike in assault against Grand Junction Law Enforcement officers.
“I have to, as the Chief of Police, have to make sure I keep my personnel safe, our officers have to make sure they stay safe in doing their jobs, and it’s just a very frustrating time,” says Chief of Police of the Grand Junction Police Department, Dough Shoemaker.
The number of assault cases against police officers is more than double what it was last year, and we’re only two-thirds of the way through the year. So far 26 officers have been assaulted. Last year that number was 11.
“By assault I actually mean someone punching an officer in the face, or kicking them, not just a push, but an actual physical assault on the officers,” says Shoemaker.
It’s not just police officers who are feeling unsafe. Hand gun sales across the nation have gone up in 2020, including here in Grand Junction.
Jerry Stehman, the Owner at Jerry’s Outdoor Sports says, “Our inventory is so depleated, and we’re just begging and pleading with our manufactures and our suppliers for handguns and shotguns and ammunition. it’s been a strain on our system.”
He says the current political climate and the pandemic are what’s driving those sales numbers up.
“People are afraid that the cops won’t protect them,” says Stehman. “People were afraid that people would beat their door down to get a gallon of milk or to get something to eat,” he says.
Even with the difficult year, local law enforcement are doing their best to keep excelling at their jobs.
“Despite these negative things, they’re still staying positive and doing some great things,” says Shoemaker.