The Detention Facility: Aging, outdated, dangerous
Urgent need for new jail. Now.
Walls crumble, sewage backs up, inmates crowd into pods, while the staff struggles to provide basic mental and behavioral health assistance inside the Arapahoe County jail.
The Detention Facility was built in 1986 to hold 386 inmates, but routinely, there's about three times that, some 1,100 inmates. They are are triple-bunked making tempers flare, sparking violence and putting officers in danger. Crowding is just one concern.
- The lack of services for inmates means more repeat offenders.
- The overall infrastructure of the jail is failing. Sewage, plumbing and electrical systems are stressed in a system never designed for the number of inmates housed there today.
- The booking and release center is inadequate. Designed for 29 inmates, it often holds as many as 80. That makes for long processing delays, puts the staff at risk, and means there isn’t enough holding space for the many separation needs of men and women, those using drugs and alcohol and inmates with mental and behavioral issues.
- The jail is woefully inadequate in its ability to provide care for inmates experiencing behavioral health problems. There are only eight cells for them. Twelve cells for medical care. Just a few spaces that can be used for suicide watch.
- Forty-percent of the jail population experiences behavioral health needs. That’s some 400 to 450 people needing help, a larger population than the jail was originally built to house.
We're so busy, and we have so many critical tasks with no ability to expand,” Detention Services Bureau Chief Vince Line told the Littleton Independent. “It's a recipe for potential disaster.”
-Photos courtesy of David Gilbert of the Littleton Independent
The solution lives at the intersection of doing what we can as a county to divert low-level offenders from our jail, investing in new facilities that are safer and more efficient, and enhancing programs that work to keep people from ending up in jail again.
Creating safe, modern criminal justice and judicial facilities will result in the best outcomes and make the most efficient use of taxpayer funds.
A student’s best friend
School Resource Officers find therapy dogs are dog-gone good for kids
When you see a K-9 and a cop, you might think they’re looking for drugs or weapons, but not in schools. Our School Resource Officers (SROs) are using therapy dogs to break down the barriers with kids.
“I spoke to kids who have never spoken to me, saw smiles everywhere, and I know I changed at least one kid’s life for the better,” said Deputy Mark Edson, School Resource Officer at Arapahoe High School.
Deputy Edson worked with the Denver Secret Service to bring the project to life. To test it out, Littleton Public Schools (LPS) employee K-9 Lulu spent two days with him and other SROs visiting schools, reducing the stress of tests, and talking to students. With such a successful test, look for more therapy dogs in school across the county soon.
STEM gives thanks for rescue
When the first frantic calls came into 9-1-1 on May 7, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office responded to STEM School along with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office within minutes. Together, the teams worked together to stop two teenagers with guns who had shot one student to death and wounded eight others. Since then, people associated STEM have poured out their hearts and thanks to our deputies. We couldn’t be more thankful for their kind words. Watch the story.
On the road with motorcycles
With winter finally melting away, motorcycle riders of all types are pulling the covers off their bikes and taking to the roads again.
If you’re new to riding or perhaps you’ve decided to rekindle an old flame, it’s a good idea to take a rider course, even if you’ve ridden before. Remember, even an old dog can learn new tricks!
There are several providers of motorcycle education who operate in our area and riders can take classes aimed at the beginning rider up to advanced classes for technical skills, such as racing or off-road riding. A simple online search will give you more results than we can list here, but here's a couple suggestions: ABATE of Colorado - abateofcolo.org,Motorcycle Safety Foundation - msf-usa.org.
Before hitting the road, always do yourself a favor and take a close look at your bike’s condition. Taking a few minutes to conduct a “pre-flight” check can prevent a crash!
- Are your tires in need of replacement? Are they aired up to the manufacturer’s specifications?
- How do your wheels look? Do you have a bent rim or broken or loose spokes?
- Have you checked or replaced your brake pad/shoes lately? If not, do you know how to check them? Do both brakes work and hold the bike?
- Check all your switch gear controls to make certain all controls are working as designed.
- Activate and ensure all lights are in good working order.
- Your bike uses a variety of fluids in the powertrain. Depending on your bike, you will have engine oil/transmission oil and possibly primary chaincase or shaft drive oil, in addition to brake fluid and clutch fluid, should you have a hydraulic clutch. Make sure whatever your bike uses, it’s appropriately full and clean.
- Take a look at your shocks, front and rear. Are they clean or an oily mess? Do the shocks compress and rebound properly?
- Give all fasteners a look too. Make sure none of your various nut & bolts have vibrated loose.
- Does your side stand/center stand extend and retract properly?
Don’t be hard-headed. Wear a helmet! Colorado does not require helmets for adult riders but according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, wearing a helmet reduces your risk of dying in a crash by 37%. The same study found riders without helmets are 3 times more likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury in a crash when compared to helmeted riders. Bottom line is helmets are the best protection we can have in preventing death/injury due to head trauma.
Full face helmets offer the best protection. Look for a brand name helmet with both a DOT rating and a SNELL rating when choosing one if you want the best protection.
Modular helmets, which allow the chin bar on the helmet to lift up to expose the rider’s face are another popular option. You won’t find a SNELL rating here though, as the movable chin bar is a weak point in a crash therefore SNELL won’t certify them. That doesn’t mean they’re no good though, just keep that fact in mind and buy a quality helmet from a one of the name brand makers.
Three-quarter and Half helmets are next down the safety list. A three-quarter helmet will come down over the ears and lower down the back of the head. A half helmet shell sits above the ears and does not extend as far down the back of the head. These are both good choices for hot weather riding or for those that find a full face/modular helmet too claustrophobic.