Apr 19

A Resilient Columbine

Posted on April 19, 2019 at 12:50 PM by Dionne Waugh

By Sheriff Jeff Shrader
April 20, 2019
Sheriff Shrader Behind the Badge
This month marks twenty years since one of the worst events in Jefferson County’s history. But it also marks twenty years of extraordinary resilience in our community. Many Sheriff’s deputies who responded on April 20th are still with the JCSO, but even those who have left or who have begun their careers since then, share an emotional connection to Columbine High School and its students, families, faculty and staff. Past, present and future.  

These emotions are often mixed: relief that two decades have passed, anxiety when misguided individuals direct their attention at Columbine, joy to meet the adults that former students have become, sadness for each anniversary, hope for future generations of graduates, and an overwhelming sense of PRIDE. I am extremely proud of the resilience I have witnessed during the past twenty years, and that I know my successors will witness during the next twenty. 
Those who were involved in the tragedy as a student, family member, staff, or first responder experience a heavy heart when an anniversary returns, a school is put on lockdown, or a similar event occurs elsewhere in the country. For families who lost a loved one, teachers who lost a student, or students who lost a friend, this burden is the greatest. While we wish we could ease this load, and hope that twenty years will somehow help it subside, we must continue to persevere.

And this week we did. When our community was threatened we came together to protect our schools and our students. Parents, school districts, and local, state, and federal law enforcement took the necessary actions to ensure our kids stayed safe. YOU made sure our kids stayed safe. As your sheriff, I would very much like to be able to say tragedy will not strike Jefferson County again. But we are not immune. Instead, I can say from experience over the last twenty years, and from recent events, that if we continue to be resilient, we will prevail against any evil that may come our way. 

This month and always, we remember those who lost their lives on April 20, 1999. We reflect on the tragic events of that day. And we recommit to being a resilient community where all people can live, learn, work, and play.  
Jeff Shrader, Sheriff
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office

Mar 01

Planning for the Future Five

Posted on March 1, 2019 at 10:15 AM by Dionne Waugh

By Sheriff Jeff Shrader
March 1, 2019

Last year we began developing a strategic plan to use as a guide for our decisions and actions over the next five years. The well thought out format of a strategic plan allows us to focus on specific tasks and initiatives, better manage personnel and resources, and be more accountable to you, our citizens. Certainly it is far preferable over a shotgun approach to providing public safety services in Jefferson County. Therefore, in January we began implementing our 2019 – 2023 Strategic Plan. 

The year-long planning process involved creating a steering committee comprised of leaders within the organization, surveying citizens who had come into contact with the sheriff’s office during 2018, and conducting a SWOT analysis with other governmental partners. A SWOT analysis looks at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of an organization to help find areas in need of improvement or gaps in service. These findings ultimately help us create goals that, if achieved, will improve the agency and fill the gaps that may exist.

Through the planning process we created four goals that we will focus our energy and some of our financial resources on for the next five years so we can improve the sheriff’s office and our public service to you. Our vision is for Jefferson County to be a safe place for all people to live, learn, work, and play. I believe the following goals and their action items will help us achieve that vision.

1. Optimize Workforce Development
a. Attract employees who match the demographics of our community’s workforce
b. Reduce the time it takes to hire new employees
c. Create a plan to retain current employees and train them as future leaders
d. Implement training to improve work performance and reduce workplace accidents
e. Use technology to improve our efficiency

2. Enhance Public Safety Practices
a. Deploy deputies and resources to areas in greater need
b. Reduce the occurrence of domestic violence and sexual assault, and enhance services to victims of these crimes

3. Improve Relationships between Public Service and Our Communities
a. Develop community policing partnerships between patrol deputies, sergeants, residents, and business owners
b. Facilitate better services for the homeless or individuals with mental health or substance abuse issues
c. Minimize at-risk behaviors in youth through education and effective enforcement
d. Make better use of our emergency management program

4. Create an Environment for Efficient Fiscal and Facility Management
a. Participate in the county’s Facility Master Plan process for the jail and courthouse
b. Maintain greater accountability of equipment with an inventory management system
c. Remain financially responsible through governmental partnerships and by employing best practices

Each of these goals is ambitious and some action items are formidable, but they are attainable if we use the strategic plan as it is intended – to serve as guidance for thoughtful decision-making and resource allocation. The strategic plan is also designed to be flexible however, for priorities can change over five years. While the plan allows us to be proactive, we will also continue to be responsive to more urgent issues that may arise during its lifespan. But whatever our future over the next five years, we are committed to achieving our vision for Jefferson County to be a safe place to live, learn, work, and play. Simply put, to your future.
Our 2019 – 2023 Strategic Plan is available in its entirety here
Jeff Shrader, Sheriff
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office

Feb 07

A New Term: Looking Back & Leading Forward

Posted on February 7, 2019 at 9:42 AM by Jennifer Fulton

By Sheriff Jeff Shrader
February 1, 2019
A new year is often viewed as a fresh start, an opportunity to make improvements and face challenges, both in our personal lives and professional. For me, this January marks the beginning of my second term in office and I am fortunate to be able to continue our efforts to ensure Jefferson County is a safe place for all people to live, learn, work, and play. During my first term we made many improvements while also overcoming some challenges and I expect to do the same over the next four years.

One of the challenges I faced personally during my first term was clearing up some confusion regarding my professional role. A few years ago my granddaughter, who was three at the time, spent the night at our house. The next morning she saw me in uniform for the first time and promptly asked “Grandpa are you going to the circus?” 

So it would seem. 

Since then, I have embraced the notion that law enforcement is a circus of sorts and I have a front row seat to the greatest show on earth. Sometimes I even feel like the ringleader. While I trust you understand the role of law enforcement better than my granddaughter, there is still potential for miscommunication and misunderstanding, a challenge we strive to overcome through transparency. Therefore, I would like to share some of the challenges we face and the improvements we have and will continue to make to address those challenges.

Since 2014, crime has increased in unincorporated Jefferson County by approximately 25%. We have also seen reported increases in substance abuse, mental illness, and homelessness during the same timeframe. Often these conditions co-occur with individuals, complicating their interactions with law enforcement and the community. Approximately 300 individuals are booked into the jail each month with substance addictions that require a withdrawal protocol, and 15 – 17% of the jail population has a mental health issue.

As a result, the sheriff’s office has implemented programs to help address these challenges. In Patrol we utilize a co-responder model that partners mental health professionals with law enforcement. Two case managers from the Jefferson Center for Mental Health train deputies in de-escalation techniques, manage individuals with a history of law enforcement contacts, and respond alongside deputies to calls related to mental illness when necessary. In addition, 46% of our patrol deputies are certified in crisis intervention to better manage incidents with individuals suffering from mental health issues.

In Detentions we have established a new Behavioral Health Unit that houses inmates with substance abuse or mental health issues. The BHU offers a series of programs, activities and therapies that can be continued outside the jail with the goal of preventing an inmate’s return. We also introduced Vivitrol in the jail. Vivitrol is a medication assisted treatment that blocks opioid cravings, prevents relapses, and significantly reduces recidivism for those who participate in the voluntary program. To date, seven inmates have received the medication prior to their release and have been provided with follow-up medical appointments and resources to help ensure their success. 

In addition, we were recently awarded a $700,000 grant from the Department of Justice for a multi-year re-entry program that will assess and manage inmates with co-occurrence of substance abuse and mental health issues. Case management for qualifying inmates includes plans focusing on needs for housing, transportation, education, medical, mental health, and substance addiction. The re-entry program is also intended to reduce recidivism for a significant portion of the 95% of inmates who re-enter the community upon their release from jail.  

These initiatives are just some of the steps we have taken to address the challenges our community faces in terms of substance abuse and mental health. These efforts will continue and many more will begin during my second term as ringleader. We will face the challenges, make more improvements, and continue to offer you a front row seat through our transparency. 
Until the next Behind the Badge, I encourage you to take a few minutes to review our five-year Strategic Plan that outlines our goals and objectives through 2023. The plan is available on our website here