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Criminal justice agencies, community organizations partner to reduce violence

May 9, 2024, 11:45 am

The Town of Vail recently issued the following press release on a new community-wide partnership with Eagle County and a number of community-based organization called the Mountain Safe Response Plan:

Criminal justice agencies and community-based organizations have formed a new partnership called the Mountain Safe Response Plan. Mountain Safe is designed to bring criminal justice, behavioral health, youth intervention, victim advocacy and community service programs together under one overarching plan. Goals are to improve outcomes for crime victims and those exposed to trauma, reduce violent crime, mitigate at-risk behavior, and encourage crime reporting.

The plan is funded by a 3-year, $150K grant to the Vail Police Department and its partners from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance and provides funding for the acquisition of services of a nationally known consultant on information sharing, the hiring of an intern to support the collaboration efforts, some basic technology to support information sharing among the partners, and an awareness campaign. The Mountain Safe grant is one of only 21 awards given out (in 2022) throughout the country to focus on ways to break the cycle of violence in rural areas.

Mountain Safe partners include: Vail & Avon police departments, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Mountain Youth, Bright Future Foundation and Eagle County Paramedic Services.

A Collaborative Action Team formed in 2022 to develop processes and applications of technology to ensure victims are not lost in the work of administering justice, to coordinate the delivery of services to justice-involved or trauma-exposed individuals and students, and to help individuals with mental or behavioral health problems avoid being processed into the criminal justice system. Intervention plans will identify the most suitable combination of services for a targeted response to a specific problem – crime types, victim traumas, lifestyle, societal impacts, and situational context.

Former Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger said, “The intent of Mountain Safe is not to replace established crime reduction, youth focused, victim advocacy, behavioral health, and offender services. Rather its aim is to consolidate programs and overlay an assessment framework built on evidence-based practices and avoid duplication of services. Outcomes from Mountain Safe collaborative interventions will be measured over three years against a baseline of 2021 crime rates in the county.”

“The Mountain Safe Response Plan amplifies and extends the existing and extensive victim services program that the District Attorney’s office administers in accordance with state law,” said Heidi McCollum, 5th Judicial District Attorney. “This kind of follow-through and collaboration will ensure that all victims get the kind of services they need as their cases progress through the system. Also, offenders who can be diverted to non-criminal justice involvements can have better outcomes and reduce the probability of their returning to the system,” DA McCollum added.

The partnership is paying careful attention to the protection of individual privacy in sharing data across agencies. They created a universal consent form that all agencies can use to ensure that participants in the program give informed consent for their health and other records to be shared with the service providers under strict information protection and privacy.

“I really want to thank all our Eagle County partners, including 970 Design, for helping us create this amazing program that’s going to benefit so many people for so many years to come,” said Wendi Rowles, Program Lead.

For more information, go to: mountainsafe.co.

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