BRIGHTON — Brighton and Thornton are the testing grounds for a new $2 million program to give tangible help to high-risk victims of domestic violence.
The program, announced June 27 by 17th Judicial District Attorney Brian Mason and federal, state and county elected officials and local police, will be able to offer resources such as temporary housing, legal assistance, mental-health treatment and school support for children to victims considered to be of high risk.
Mason said a $2 million federal grant will allow him to create a team made up of DA staff, law enforcement and local service providers. That group will meet once a week to review cases and determine whether the victims fall into a high-risk category. Once authorities determine who is at high risk, they can get access to the special resources and help.
Mason said the long-term goal was to form a brick-and-mortar family justice center for all domestic violence victims.
"We want to get a one-stop-shop for services, and this team is a building block for that," Mason said.
The program is underway in both Brighton and Thornton, and the grant enables the program to expand through the rest of Adams and Broomfield counties.
Thornton Police Chief Terrence Gordon said the old system of arrest, respond and repeat, doesn't work.
"This initiative treats the whole person. It empowers victims to take more control of their lives and situations," he said.
"This grant really brings all of our services and experience to bear," said Scott Shields, CEO of Family Tree. "We can't do it alone."
Elected officials said they were bullish on the idea. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., who helped push the bill allowing the $2 million grant through Congress, blamed the ongoing pandemic for a rise in domestic-violence cases.
"People are stuck in their homes. They don't have access to resources, to their families," he said. "Adams County is leading the way. My hope is that others will see what you're going here. What you're doing will help millions of women, and it starts right here in Adams County."
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., said the money became available because of existing efforts.
"Domestic violence cases need a lot of attention," he said. "This grant allows you to get that attention."
Adams County Commissioner Lynn Baca said the grant "helps give hope to those who suffer from the abuse of others."
"It will expand the programs. It will expand the services and allow the victims to have deeper access to services," she said.
Adams County Commissioner Emma Pinter said Family Tree, an organization that helps those affected by child abuse, domestic violence and homelessness, reported more than 250 domestic violence calls in the past 18 months.
"This will make sure that these residents have a plan, have money, have a friendly ear," she said. "We will find you more options."
Adams County Commissioner Steve O'Dorisio used to work in the DA's office.
"The money shows that we will stand up for victims and against the abusers," he said. "We will stand for the people who are scared of being in their own homes."
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