Community Policing Dispatch Photo Contest Winner: Jefferson County (Colorado) Sheriff’s Office

The COPS Office is pleased to feature the September 2016 winner of the Community Policing in Action Photo Contest—The Jefferson County (Colorado) Sheriff’s Office. The winning photo features Sgt. Richard Fleming purchasing lemonade from Anabella Kunse in October 2015 during Cops Love Lemonade Stands.

Jefferson County, Colorado, is one of six counties that make up the Denver metropolitan area. With a population of approximately 565,000 residents and an area that spans more than 700 square miles including both unincorporated and mountain areas, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office serves three distinctly different areas. Each area has its own set of challenges and objectives, which is why outreach and community engagement are so important.

After attending a training in Washington, D.C., last year, Sheriff Jeff Shrader brought back the idea of gathering faith-based communities together with law enforcement. “One of my training co-participants was the sheriff of Charleston, South Carolina. We were at a baseball game when he got the call that the shootings were going on in Charleston. I walked him back to the hotel, and after reflecting on that for a few days I thought it would be very important for us to do something and that we could have a stronger connection with our faith community.”

Now Jefferson County hosts an annual safety and faith summit, which aims to provide support to houses of worship by offering instruction and education on how to make the best decisions about safety. “The hope of what we do, in addition to providing education,” said Sheriff Shrader, “is that in the event something should happen, we’re not meeting for the first time at that incident.”

Along with the summit, the sheriff’s office hosts quarterly meetings with its faith-based community members and continues to see greater participation and involvement. “It seemed like an opportunity to strengthen our connection to the community, our knowledge of one another, but it’s one of those things in the truest sense—the spirit of community policing. It lends itself to others in the community and it spreads throughout,” said Shrader.

Jefferson County schools are also a priority for the sheriff’s office. “We responded to the Columbine [High School] incident a number of years ago and had to deal with challenges that resulted from that,” he said. “We have been faced with three other school-related incidents since.”

To help build and maintain positive relationships with area schools and community members, the sheriff’s office launched a social media campaign last year entitled Cops Love Lemonade Stands. After seeing it online, the social media manager decided to try it in Jefferson County. In just a short period, the campaign went viral, and Jefferson County deputies were buying lemonade all over town.
When [then] six-year-old Annabella Kunse (featured in the winning photo) wanted to participate by hosting her own lemonade stand but could not because of apartment complex rules, Sheriff Shrader opened the office doors and allowed Annabella to sell her lemonade in the office common area. She sold cookies and lemonade and paid it forward by buying more cookies and lemonade to share with other agencies in Jefferson County.

The campaign was so popular that the sheriff’s office decided to promote it again this summer. Community members can simply notify the office of the location of the lemonade stand, and Jefferson County deputies will show up. “For us, it’s not just about buying a cup of lemonade and getting back in your car,” said Mark Techmeyer, Director of Public Affairs. “It’s about interacting with the kids and getting to know the communities, interacting with the parents, building relationships.”

Community policing is more than just a term in Jefferson County. It has become a way of life. “That’s just how we do business. We believe that we are a part of the communities we serve,” Sheriff Shrader emphasized; he is from Jefferson County and is in his 33rd year in law enforcement. “I think that’s incredibly important, especially with some of the recent events that have occurred in different parts of the country—the criticisms and the assaultive behavior directed toward police. It is important to keep our focus on engaging with communities and maintaining safety. The reality is that it takes work every day.”

The COPS Office congratulates the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for being one of the 12 winners of the COPS Office 2016 Community Policing in Action Photo Contest and for its commitment to community policing.

Written with contributions from Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader and Director of Public Affairs Mark Techmeyer. Photo taken by Dionne Waugh, Digital Communications Manager. Photo courtesy of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Najla Haywood
Special Contributor
The COPS Office

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