View All Posts

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