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Departing Granby police chief led with focus on community

Granby Police Chief Jim Kraker, third from left, dances with other law enforcement officers during halftime of a boys basketball game between Middle Park and West Grand at Middle Park High School. The chief announced last week that he would be moving on from the department and leaves behind a legacy of community-focused policing in Granby.
Eli Pace / epace@skyhinews.com

Known for his kind smile and Midwestern friendliness, outgoing Granby Police Chief Jim Kraker spent 15 years bringing a community-based approach to the police department he helped create.

The chief announced in a community letter last week that he would be moving on from Granby. Kraker has been with the police department since its creation when he was sworn in as one of its first officers.

Fraser Winter Park Police Chief Glen Trainor worked with Kraker in the early 2000s at the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. They both went on to help start their respective police forces in 2005.



“When those police departments started, we were really treading new ground together,” Trainor remembered.

As the two worked to build community relationships at the young departments, they also became good friends.



“I have considered him one of my closest confidants over the years,” Trainor said. “We have been involved in some major critical incidents together. I really consider him to be a brother more than just a fellow officer because we both have served our community with a common goal of making a difference in people’s lives.”

Jim Kraker, center, is sworn into the Granby Police Department as a patrol sergeant when the local force was established in 2005.
Sky-Hi News archive

One of Kraker’s most defining attributes is his humility and desire to stay out of the lime light, encapsulated by a brief biography on the Granby police website:

“James Kraker has been a member of the Granby Police Department since its creation in 2005. He held the position of patrol sergeant for several years before being promoted to chief of police in 2017.”

The two sentences don’t even begin to capture all Kraker has done during his time with Granby, but those who know the chief can name his numerous accomplishments.

Trainor highlighted Kraker’s work to create the Middle Park Emergency Response Team, a multi-jurisdictional tactical group that resolves dangerous incidents outside the normal patrol response — situations like barricaded individuals or serving high-risk warrants.

“His leadership through several critical incidents really defined his abilities as not only a great field commander but a tactical commander as well,” Trainor said.

Kraker also helped to bring the highly praised school resource officer program to the East Grand School District and establish a code enforcement officer for the town.

“Really a lot of the things he did were cutting edge compared to how law enforcement had been done in Grand County prior to that,” Trainor said.

Jake Fisher is sworn in by Granby's town clerk while Chief Jim Kraker looks on in December 2018. Kraker was credited with a number of accomplishments that built up police resources in the Grand County community.
Sky-Hi News file photo

Granby Mayor Josh Hardy commended Kraker’s role in the “decentralized command” at the police department, giving patrol sergeants more exposure to responsibilities that they might not get in bigger cities.

“He’s really trained his officers to continue to work up the ladder,” Hardy said. “That’s something he’s really worked hard on, and I think that’s been a key to a lot of our retention with the police force.”

Hardy also complimented the chief’s communication with citizens, town staff and elected officials, saying Kraker has been both helpful and open. At town board meetings, Kraker’s updates often featured the interesting and sometimes humorous anecdotes that come with small-town policing.

Those run-ins often include wildlife like the two bears that ran amok this past summer. The chief gave periodic updates to the town board about the repeated attempts to haze the “resident bears“ out of Granby.

Most of all, Kraker has constantly stressed the pride he has in his eight-person police force.

“My proudest accomplishment was always the success of people around me,” Kraker said. “Any time somebody around me or associated with me really saw their goals through or really reached an accomplishment, that helped me achieve mine.”

Granby Police Chief Jim Kraker shows a group of elementary students his vehicle. The departing chief helped establish a school resource officer program to the East Grand schools.
Courtesy Granby Police Department

Kraker added that he would miss the town and appreciated all the opportunities he was given. For the officers saying goodbye to the chief, there was nothing but praise for all he has done.

“He has designed a department that works alongside our citizens as a service for the people,” Granby Sgt. Amy Ryan-Williams said. “We will miss him and we thank him for all of his years of service.”

While it will be difficult to imagine Granby without Kraker, Hardy said the chief’s work has put the police department in a strong place.

“He set us up good for this situation, for him to move on,” Hardy said. “He set up the police department well.”

Most of all, those who know Kraker and the work he has done for Granby and Grand County at large are certain that he has made it a better place.

“The biggest thing for me is just that he leaves here with the knowledge that he left Grand County better than it was when he got here — and he did,” Trainor said. “There’s absolutely no question about that.”

Chief Jim Kraker helps to bag groceries before the COVID-19 lockdown in March. The chief helped to build a robust and caring police force in Granby.
Courtesy Jason Ward

 


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