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Officials cite work being done on justice center

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By Deborah Swearingen

According to information presented in a Oct. 2 county commissioners meeting, there were 456 reported cases of felony domestic violence in 2017.

That is a 28 percent increase since 2016.

“We’ve got much more work to do,” said Jeffco District Attorney Pete Weir regarding the statistics.

However, when the county proclaims October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in 2019 — as it did last week for 2018 — Weir is confident Jeffco will be in a better place. And that is largely reliant on the working being done to construct the Family Justice Center.

When it opens, it will be a one-stop center to provide services to victims of domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse and sex trafficking. Launched by the DA’s office and more than 40 partner agencies in Jefferson and Gilpin counties, it also will allow law enforcement, prosecutors and community organizations to collaborate to help those affected by domestic violence.

The county announced plans for the Family Justice Center in July 2017 and has been hard at work ever since.

“Our vision is for Jefferson County to be a safe place to live, learn, work and play,” said Sheriff Jeff Shrader. “It’s my candid belief that I think we can do even better.

“That is the next level of what Jefferson County can provide,” Shrader said of the Family Justice Center.

Casey Gwinn and Gael Strack of Alliance for Hope International, an organization that helps establish family justice centers around the world, said the first center was established in San Diego in 2002. Since then, more than 90 FJCs have been established in multiple countries, with another 100 centers in development that help women, men and children of all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.

It is Weir’s hope that Jefferson County’s FJC will do just the same when it officially opens for service.

“Jefferson County’s a special place, and it’s a special place because of the collaboration, cooperation and teamwork that we see on all levels. I think that’s exhibited by the efforts that we are making together in the domestic violence arena,” he said.