Second Annual Police Officer’s Ball Held in Montrose
by Beverly Corbell
Jul 21, 2011 | 2177 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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<b>NEW COP</b> — Officer Chris Velasquez, who has been on the Montrose Police force for less than a year, enjoyed the second annual Montrose Police Officer’s Ball with his wife Anna last Friday night. The ball raises money for equipment and training for the department. (Photo by Beverly Corbell)
MONTROSE – Judging from a room full of about 200 lively guests, the annual Police Officer’s Ball last Friday night was a huge success, even though the benefit may not have raised as much money as hoped.

The ball was held at the Montrose Pavilion, starting with a cocktail hour where guests included all of the Montrose County commissioners and Montrose City Council members, as well as District Attorney Dan Hotsenpiller and State Rep. Don Coram.

Montrose Police Chief Tom Chinn said money raised from live and silent auctions and the $100 tickets to the ball will go to training and equipment for the Montrose Police Department. In his welcoming address, Chinn emphasized that police are part of the community.

“We’re all one, we just have a different 9-to-5,” he said. “Some of us just get paid to do this full time.”

Following both silent and live auctions guests had dinner of roast beef of tenderloin and salmon in lemon dill sauce catered by the Camp Robber Restaurant, and then many went into the ballroom next door to dance to live music by Chase ‘N the Dream.

Several other people spoke through the program, including Mayor Kathy Ellis, who praised the Montrose cops for their dedication.

Chinn presented an award to Gary and Nancy Johnston for their work on the ball (both Johnsons are retired cops, Chinn said afterward, and both do volunteer work for the department).

“They were at Main in Motion every Thursday night and sold a lot of tickets,” he said. “They got the majority of the sponsors, too.”

Major sponsors for the event included Delta Montrose Electric Association/Touchstone Energy, Barbara Black, Gary and Nancy Johnston, Mike and Cathy Ullman, and TEI Rock Drills.

The annual event would not be possible without the help of the community, Chinn said, and that goes for police work as well.

About 20 officers attended the ball, including Officer Chris Velasquez and his wife Anna. Velasquez has only been on the force for about nine months, he said, and his duties include both car and bicycle patrol.

“I love everything about it, the various schedules, and interacting with different people,” he said.

A native of Delta, Velasquez said he is the first in his family to go into law enforcement. He said he particularly likes talking with people about anything and everything, with the ultimate goal of lowering crime rates.

“I’m basically building a rapport with the community,” he said. “People talk about everything from animal control to how I’m doing. Such a multitude of friendly people; it’s really unbelievable.”

Community policing is integral to the department, Chinn said earlier this week, and despite what some people, think, it’s not a “PR campaign,” but rather, “It’s getting people and police involved with each other to keep crime rates down.”

For example, a few years ago the department started a Crime Free Housing campaign where they enlist the help of apartment and homeowners to evict people who are involved in a crime.

The system is working, Chinn said, and places where landlords agree to send tenants packing once they commit a crime have seen a change for the better.

“We have seen a reduction in repeat calls from those areas, which can run from drugs to domestic violence,” he said. “It allows us to protect these properties and we don’t have to do that much, just give them (landlords) the information on crimes.”

Community policing is “very, very proactive” in dealing with crime and includes several key elements such as citizen input, personal service and recognition that policing covers a wide range.

“We are recognizing policing as a broad function, including resolving conflicts, helping victims, preventing accidents, and solving problems,” Chinn said.

But while most police officers were at work, the party at the Pavilion went on for hours and “everyone seemed to have a good time,” said Cmdr. Gene Lillard.

Lillard said putting on the ball was a lot of work, but he was able to enjoy himself as well, especially when he donned a large sombrero and a pink (stuffed) bra, along with helpers, and tried to up the bid on a trip to Mexico donated by Barbara Black.

Lillard said he had hoped that the trip would sell for $2,000 to $3,000, but it sold for $1,700.

Although the profits from the ball haven’t been totaled yet, Lillard said he expects the event didn’t raise as much as last year’s ball, the second annual, which brought in about $24,000 to the Montrose Police Department Charitable Fund, which is a component fund of the Montrose Community Foundation.

“I think it’s a sign of the economic times that while we had a lot of community support, some of the auction items didn’t go as high as we had thought,” he said.

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