Police problems arrive in Palisade
No one can be happy to learn that yet another police officer in the Grand Valley faces criminal charges, albeit misdemeanor ones. We can only hope that the focus on these problems and quick law enforcement responses to them will help reduce the likelihood of future problems.
Palisade police officer Stephen Tonello was arrested last Friday by Mesa County Sheriff’s Department investigators after he allegedly harassed his former girlfriend with text messages and by showing up at her home early in the morning knocking repeatedly at her door.
We’re pleased to see that the sheriff’s department took the issue seriously when contacted by Tonello’s ex-girlfriend. He was arrested Friday evening — the same day the woman contacted the sheriff’s department — on suspicion of harassment. He spent the night in the Mesa County Jail and was released the following morning on bond.
It’s also welcome news that Palisade Police Chief Carroll Quarles is conducting his own investigation of Tonello’s actions, separate from the criminal case. As we have with the incidents involving officers of the Grand Junction Police Department, we urge Chief Quarles to make the details of his investigation public as soon as possible, along with information on any disciplinary action taken regarding Tonello.
As with any other citizens, Tonello must be considered innocent until proven guilty. We don’t know if he is guilty of any criminal behavior or violation of Palisade Police Department policies. That’s what the two investigations aim to determine.
But with three area police officers having been arrested within the past couple months, it is imperative that the public be kept informed of what is happening with both the criminal and internal investigations, and any punishment meted out.
What makes the police officers’ cases different than those of average citizens is that they are paid with public money to serve and protect the public.