A pilot program aimed at helping people escape domestic violence in Thornton and Brighton will be expanded throughout Adams County and into Broomfield with $2 million in federal funding, officials announced Monday.
The program creates a multi-agency team — with members from law enforcement, the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, victim services providers, the housing authority, probation and human services — that will aim to identify and help victims of domestic violence soon after police are alerted to a violent situation.
Victims will be referred to the Domestic Violence High Risk Team by police after officers respond to potential domestic violence incidents and screen victims for their future risk of suffering additional domestic violence, according to the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The team will meet weekly and seek to support referred victims within days of the initial incident.
“This high-risk team is set up to identify domestic violence victims early and get them the wraparound services that they need to keep them away from their abusers and to keep them off the autopsy table,” 17th Judicial District Attorney Brian Mason said during a news conference Monday.
The team’s response to victims is not dependent on a criminal prosecution; victims can be helped even if no arrest is made in the case or the victim doesn’t cooperate with prosecutors.
The pilot program has been operating in Thornton since February, and the team has received an average of two to four referrals each week, district attorney spokesman Chris Hopper said. That jumped to between two and six weekly referrals after Brighton was added to the pilot, he said.
The $2 million grant will allow the involved agencies to hire additional staff and expand the program across both counties. The funding will last for about 18 months, at which point the counties can take over the program’s costs, Hopper said. Mason on Monday thanked Congressmen Jason Crow, Ed Perlmutter and Joe Neguse for working together to secure the federal grant.
“When you get the three of us on the same page, there is no stopping anything,” Perlmutter said.
Thornton police Chief Terrence Gordon said during Monday’s news conference that he believes a different approach like the multi-agency team is necessary to effectively disrupt the cycle of domestic violence.
“In my 27 years in this profession I’ve seen two intractable issues that have not responded to traditional criminal justice efforts,” he said. “One is addiction and the other is domestic violence. The traditional respond, arrest, repeat hasn’t done anything… true solutions to these two issues and many other things can be found in the principals of this initiative that we are highlighting today, which is true collaboration.”
The new program includes representatives from Family Tree, which helps survivors of domestic violence find emergency shelter and runs a 24/7 crisis line, as well as Project Safeguard, which provides civil legal services for survivors of domestic violence, and Servicios de La Raza, a bilingual organization that helps survivors with safety planning and logistics.
“I was getting goosebumps as everyone was talking,” said Sylvia Ramos Gamboa, program director at Servicios de La Raza. “This is reality, this is the real thing… together we are stronger.”
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