Chief John Camper

When John Camper entered the Grand Junction Police Department headquarters last August to become interim police chief, a perfect storm followed him through the door.

Camper’s calm hand at the helm of the Police Department through that storm is a large reason we support the decision this week to make Camper the permanent police chief.

Within a few weeks after Camper assumed his new duties, a Grand Junction police officer was arrested on allegations of domestic violence. The officer subsequently resigned.

In October, another officer was arrested on suspicion of raping a local woman in her home during an ongoing criminal investigation. That officer was fired, and later died in an apparent suicide.

Shortly after that occurred, Camper wisely asked for an outside review of the department’s internal affairs processes. When that review was completed, Camper said he expected to implement all of the recommendations, including a new program for educating and disciplining officers on ethics violations.

Through all this, Camper hasn’t tried to avoid tough questions or hide what was taking place. He even instituted a new public report regarding complaints, compliments and internal investigations.

We still disagree with Camper on some questions of what should be made public under state law. But we recognize that Camper has made a significant effort to keep the public informed of the internal workings of the police department. We hope that commitment to transparency will continue and that Camper will commit to further transparency now that “interim” has been removed from his title.

Although the internal investigations may have been the most high-profile events that occurred during Camper’s interim tenure as police chief, they were by no means his only focus.

For the past six months he has managed a large department in a facility that everyone agrees is overcrowded and outdated. His department has continued to handle day-to-day police work, from traffic enforcement to violent crimes to occasional school threats.

The longtime Lakewood police veteran, who graduated from Central High School, has demonstrated his law enforcement management skills. We join citizens of Grand Junction in congratulating Camper on becoming chief.


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