The Elko Police Department has been doing some fine investigative work in recent months. What remains to be seen is how well the rest of the justice system will follow up on their successes.
In midsummer, police conducted an extensive investigation after a local man was struck by a vehicle in the Walmart parking lot. Jared Kraintz, 35, was simply walking to his car July 15 when he was hit and later died from his injuries.
Police interviewed witnesses, concluded their probe and forwarded it to the district attorney in mid-August. They took the unusual step of holding a press conference in mid-September to announce that they believe there is evidence to support a charge of vehicular manslaughter against the driver.
We contacted District Attorney Mark Torvinen in mid-October, and he said his office has reviewed the case, along with supplemental investigation.
“I believe that a charging decision will be made in the near future,” he told the Free Press last week.
Meanwhile, police themselves came under attack on Aug. 30 when an officer was fired upon while driving his patrol car on Silver Street. Fortunately the bullet did not penetrate the car door, but the shooter could still be facing a charge of attempted murder.
Detectives jumped on the case with all available resources – as they should – and even provided video images of potential witnesses to the press for publication. Their hard work throughout the month of September led to a 32-year-old suspect, and the case was forwarded to the DA.
According to Torvinen, police requested a forensic examination from the Washoe Crime Lab, and his office is still waiting for their report.
“They are constantly working under a deluge of requests for their services, and when a submission for forensic examination is made it is, absent extraordinary circumstances, addressed on a first-come-first-serve basis,” he stated.
We think a bullet fired at an Elko police officer is not only an extraordinary circumstance, but one that other law enforcement professionals would want to put at the top of their list. As long as police are under fire, no one in our community is safe.
In another high-profile case, a man who posted bond on a $100,000 bail for multiple charges of burglarizing Elko businesses in June was arrested again this month on a charge of breaking into the school police office and stealing guns and computers containing sensitive information.
Again, police released video images of the suspect and received many tips from the public. We applaud detectives for putting the resources of news and social media to work in the interests of law enforcement.
Finally, we learned last week that Eduardo Estrada-Puentes has been extradited to Nevada to face charges in the 2011 homicide of his estranged wife. The family of the victim has held many fundraisers over the years in their quest for justice.
This case has taken years of police work and cooperation between local, state, national and international law enforcement agencies, as Police Chief Ben Reed pointed out in announcing the extradition.
It is clear from the above cases that Elko police are going above and beyond the call of duty to help keep us safe. Now it is up to prosecutors and the courts to do their part.
No amount of redevelopment or beautification will make our city a more attractive place to live and visit if the streets are not safe. Quick and effective responses are needed to deal with the disturbing trends in criminal activity that have arisen over the past year.