sheriff taps two explorers to become patrol deputies
Elizabeth Hinojos and Zachary Newell are first to be sponsored through the police academy
In the summer of 2012, Elizabeth Hinojos, just 14-years-old and a freshman at Eaglecrest High School, told her mom she might be interested in law enforcement. Not long after, Hinojos was enrolled in the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office Explorer program. Little did she know it would put her on a path to a full-time job.
As an explorer, Hinojos began participating in community events, helping direct traffic at major crime scenes, doing crisis intervention and learning about arrest control.
“I fell in love with law enforcement and knew instantly this is what I wanted to do the rest of my life,” said Hinojos.
Explorers are student volunteers 14-21 years old who join the program to gain experience in law enforcement that would otherwise not be available. Twenty-two year old Zach Newell joined when he was 16 and a junior at Cherokee Trail High School.
“It taught me a lot about talking face-to-face with people, which was nice, especially in a tech age,” says Newell.
Hinojos and Newell quickly became friends and were so good at their jobs they were appointed to leadership roles. Newell became a lieutenant and Hinojos, a captain. They soon began leading the other explorers on their team.
Lieutenant Kevin Heaton, at the time the lead advisor, took notice. He knew the two were rising stars who would fit in well with the sheriff’s office.
“We’ve had so many explorers come through our program, age out at 21-years-old, and then get hired by other agencies," stated Heaton, "we needed to come up with a way to retain the good ones.”
So, for the first time in the history of the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, the agency made an offer. It would pay the $4,700 each for Hinojos and Newell's police academy training if they would commit to stay with the agency for at least two years.
Hinojos and Newell began their 21-week P.O.S.T. academy at the Highlands Ranch Law Enforcement Training Facility in January. In addition to being the first explorers to be sponsored by the sheriff's office, they will also become the first ACSO academy graduates to transition right into patrol deputies.
“It was such an honor to be asked to do this. I'm just so humbled and grateful,” says Newell.
Newell says his long-term goal is to someday be assigned to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force as a member of the sheriff's office. Hinojos says she would like to be a homicide detective.
“No matter where I end up though,” says Hinojos, “I know one thing, I definitely want to be an advisor for the explorer program!”
BECOME AN EXPLORER
Founded in 1973, the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office is the oldest active law enforcement explorer post in Colorado.
It's an educational, volunteer program for high school students and young adults ages 14-21 with an interest in law enforcement. Once accepted, explorers attend a basic academy and meet with advisers twice a month to learn about the law enforcement profession.
The explorers train in areas such as traffic control, arrest control, criminal code patrol procedures, building searches, crime scene investigation, crisis intervention, detentions, report writing and firearms safety. They also help with community events and compete against explorers from other states. They do not carry weapons.
The ACSO has more than 40 employees who began their careers as explorers including Public Safety Bureau Chief Glenn Thompson and Lieutenant Kevin Heaton, among others.
If you'd like to find out more about our explorer program, click the button below or contact Deputy Natasha Romero at email@example.com or 720-874-4096.
Arapahoe County gives dispatchers their due
The next time you dial 911, a first responder will answer your call. That's because the Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners and the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office have re-classified 911 emergency dispatchers as lifesaving first responders. Before this, they were considered clerical workers.
The new status acknowledges dispatchers in the same way as other first responders like police, fire and emergency medical personnel. Dispatchers will have the opportunity for better pay and mental health benefits that were not available to them before.
The sheriff’s office acknowledged the critical work that dispatchers perform 24/7 to protect and save the lives of the public and first responders.
“We’ve always considered our dispatchers as the first, first responders. They are the calm voice in chaos, the guiding light for deputies, and the lifeline that can provide life-saving instructions over the phone,” said Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown. “Without them, our deputies couldn’t do their jobs.”
“The Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners is pleased to support this new classification for 911 emergency dispatchers,” the BOCC said in a joint statement. “Given the vital and stressful work these dedicated professionals do every day, and the critical role they play in responding to life-and-death situations, it’s only fitting that they should have access to similar benefits as other first responders.”
Arapahoe County is the second county in Colorado after Pitkin County to classify telecommunicators as first responders.
Captain Laurie Halaba
Breaking the glass ceiling
Captain Halaba began her career with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office in 1999. Since then, she has served in detention, patrol, as a school resource officer and on a drug task force team. She moved through the ranks and in 2014 became the first female captain in the history of the sheriff's office.
Today, she is one of two captains assigned to the Arapahoe County detention facility, overseeing courthouse security operations and the mental health and medical section inside the facility for inmates. She is also the peer support/employee wellness coordinator. In that role, her passion to support employee wellness and resiliency has expanded agencywide.
Listen to her full story on the podcast Everyday Brave on KOSI 101.1.
You count. Your dog doesn't.
By Greg Rogers
Every 10 years, the census counts everyone living in the United States. It's important to let the Census Bureau know how many people live in your home so Arapahoe County gets the right amount of federal funding. This month, households will receive official Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone or by mail. If you don't respond, census takers will visit your home to make sure you're counted.
Census or scam? Safety tips.
If someone visits your home and asks you to take the survey, this is how you can verify their identity:
- The census taker or field representative will have an ID badge that includes their name, photograph, a Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date.
- They'll have an official bag and electronic devices, such as a laptop or smartphone, bearing the Census Bureau logo.
- Census takers and field representatives will conduct their work only between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. local time.
- Census representatives will be at local organizations and community events with computer tablets to help individuals respond online to the 2020 Census.
When in doubt, call the Denver regional office for verification at 1-800-852-6159. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Mountain Daylight Time. The Census Bureau will not send unsolicited emails to request your participation in the 2020 Census. If someone asks you for the information below, it's a scam!
- Social Security number
- Bank account or credit card numbers
- Money or donations
- Any kind of a fee
In addition, the Census Bureau will not contact you on behalf of a political party. Your personal information is kept confidential by law and your answers can only be used for statistical purposes.
Emergency manager of the year
Can you help solve this cold case?
Violet Newman, 57
Violet Newman worked at May D&F at Southglenn Mall at S. University Blvd. and East Arapahoe Rd. (now the site of the Streets at Southglenn). She left work at 5:00 p.m. on October 25, 1980, presumably to head home in her yellow Chevrolet station wagon. Her husband came home from bowling and his wife was not there. He went to bed and woke up around 1:30 a.m. on October 26 and notified law enforcement that she had not returned home from work. Hikers found her body that day in Castlewood Canyon. She was nude and had been shot in the head.
A forensic exam found semen on her body which indicated she might have been sexually assaulted. It yielded a full DNA profile that has not been matched to anyone. Her vehicle was discovered at 6055 S. Milwaukee, just three blocks from her residence. It was determined that Newman had been shot inside the vehicle.
A witness described the man parking her car as a young, white man with short red hair, a pale complexion and a pug nose. He walked away through the neighborhood after he parked the car.
If you have any information related to Violet Newman's case, please contact the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office at 303-795-4711. For more details click the button below.
FREEZIN' FOR A REASON
We did it! We jumped into an icy lake to support Special Olympics Colorado. Thank you to everyone who supported us. We raised more than $3,500!
Cops and clinicians
The caller might be experiencing a mental health crisis, a substance abuse crisis or be suicidal. When Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) deputies respond to mental health calls, a licensed clinician now responds with them. The goal is to help people in distress faster and connect them with ongoing care, from mental health to housing programs.
Several ACSO deputies have crisis intervention training. This new partnership means when people are in crisis, a law enforcement deputy and a mental health expert will respond and provide more appropriate and earlier access to care and resources.
Unique to Arapahoe County, instead of a clinician riding in a vehicle with law enforcement, ACSO has provided the clinicians with vehicles to drive so they can respond to calls for service where and when they are needed the most. ACSO is one of the few law enforcement agencies that provides the licensed clinicians vehicles to drive while on duty. This allows the clinician to directly respond to calls for service and provide behavioral health support to individuals in the community, while allowing the deputies to remain in service to handle more law enforcement calls.
Once on scene, clinicians are able to provide a higher level of behavioral health support to individuals and earlier and more appropriate access to treatment. Additionally, clinicians may also remain on scene until a behavioral health crisis is resolved allowing deputies to return to the streets where they can continue to provide support and services to the rest of the community.
AllHealth Network employs licensed clinicians and is hiring. If you or someone you know is interested in working alongside deputies and providing excellent behavioral health support to our community, please click on the link below and apply.
18th judicial district citizens academy
The 18th Judicial District is holding a Spring Citizens Academy. You'll explore the different parts of the criminal justice system and get an in-depth look at what happens on a case between the time of arrest and post-conviction.
Attendees will explore the different functions of the specialized units within the district attorney’s office, including the Special Victims Unit, Economic Crimes Unit, Cold Case Unit, Crime Scene Investigations and County Court and Juvenile Justice. Students also will have the chance to learn the intricacies of a jury trial. District Attorney George Brauchler will address participants on the first night.
The free, seven-week course will be held April 8 through May 20 on Wednesday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the district attorney's Douglas County office at 4000 Justice Way in Castle Rock.