Jeffco Sheriff's Office dedicating unit to family crimes

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By Corinne Westeman

The Jeffco Sheriff’s Office, in addition to increased response from its victim advocates, has established a Family Crimes Unit.

Sheriff Jeff Shrader presented the first-quarter 2018 Law Enforcement Authority report at the Board of County Commissioners’ May 1 hearing, stating that the unit became fully functional in January. It has four investigators and a sergeant dedicated to handling crimes involving domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault by a family member or acquaintance, human trafficking and elder abuse.

“More support shows lower possibility of repeated offenses,” Shrader said.

Shrader told the commissioners that the Family Crimes Unit is not necessarily tied to the concept of a Family Justice Center, which the county has proposed establishing. However, it could be once the center is opened.

Additionally, the report states that last fall, victim advocate response protocols were changed to include more call-outs to immediately assist victims of more types of incidents. In the first quarter of 2018, victim advocates immediately responded to 245 incidents. Many of these involved multiple victims.

The Sheriff’s Office also held strangulation training, based on best practices in domestic violence investigations, for its patrol and investigations employees, the report says.

“(Strangulation) is very common among domestic violence/family abuse,” Shrader said. “There is a correlation between greater violent crimes and domestic abuse and we want to break the cycles of violence by intervening earlier in the process.”