Volume 8 | April 2019
Message from the Executive Director
Wow, it’s been a busy few weeks. Since our last newsletter, we have experienced two major snowstorms and a pretty serious threat to our schools. I want to thank each of you for your hard work and dedication. I have said it before and will say it again, I am proud to work with such a fine group of public safety professionals.

I also want to take the time to address something that is hard to talk about. Mental health issues are becoming more prevalent in our society and unfortunately, our team is not immune to these challenges. We have lost valued members of our Public Safety family to suicide and it breaks my heart. Nationally, we are seeing that suicide is now the leading cause of death among first responders, three times more likely than a line of duty death. Please take some time to read the last article in this issue and review the resources that are available. If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out. You are all a vital part of the Public Safety family and we need to come together and support each other through good times and bad.

In lighter news, we launched the Denver Opportunity Index (DOI) version 2.0 last week. This updated version of the DOI includes a database that is available to the community. We are making some incredible progress against aggressive goals aimed at addressing the social issues facing our Denver residents. Some achievements we have already accomplished as a department include:

  • Jail processing fees are being waived and steps are being taken to improve ID/intake processing times at the Denver jails;

  • Electronic monitoring fees are being waived for residents assigned to pretrial supervision by Denver County Courts;

  • Denver firefighters have received critical incident training to better manage individuals who may be experiencing challenges with mental health and addiction;

  • Denver Police launched a Citywide Impact Team to provide focused, extended-term enforcement and patrol efforts when pressing safety issues arise;

  • A community advisory group has been formed to collect feedback and look at ways to improve the SafeNite Curfew program, which offers options to young people ages 10-17 who are found to be in violation of the city’s curfew ordinance;

  • A partnership with Volunteers of America is assisting inmates being released from jail to secure housing.

Every agency is tasked with moving the DOI forward and we’ll be reviewing goals and progress at the newly instituted quarterly reports with your leadership teams.

Other highlights in this issue include celebrations at Denver 9-1-1 and Denver Police for outstanding achievements by staff members. Denver Sheriff Department welcomed 16 new deputies and Cyndi Robinson joined us as the Director of Safety Human Resources.

We have a lot to be proud of in Public Safety. Please remember how important it is to take care of each other, in good times and bad.

May God bless you and keep you safe.

Denver Police Officer Recognized for Act of Kindness by Citizens Appreciate Police 
On April 10, Citizens Appreciate Police (CAP) Board recognized Technician Jay Casillas who has gone above and beyond for the Denver community. In the fall of 2018, Technician Casillas heard about preschoolers at Denver’s Smith Elementary School who didn’t have blankets for nap-time. He generously purchased 15 blankets and donated them to the school. Since that time, he continues to make special trips to the school to volunteer and support families in need, fostering positive police-youth relationships.

The CAP Board consists of 16 citizen volunteers who meet four times per year to review nominations, select recipients and present awards. Nominations for the CAP awards come primarily from citizens who sent letters to the Chief of Police commending officers for actions while on or off duty. 

Congratulations Technician Casillas!
Play Ball! DPD Officers Throw Out First Pitch at Rockies Home Opener
Officers Steve Gameroz and Richard Jaramillo, who were shot while responding to an hours-long standoff on Inca Street in late January, were invited by the Colorado Rockies to throw out the first pitch on opening day. Both are recovering well and are expected to return to work later this year. 
Meet Cyndi Robinson, New Director of Safety Human Resources 
Cyndi Robinson joined the Public Safety Department in March as our new Human Resources Director.

Cyndi has a proven track record of accomplishments in human resource management and strategic administration. In her new role, she will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Safety HR Department, including employee relations, compliance, recruiting, benefits, payroll and administration functions. She will play a leading role in ensuring all our public safety agencies meet collective goals and objectives.

According to Cyndi, the goal of the safety HR team is to provide the best service possible to all levels of the public safety department through collaborative partnerships with all agencies. Her philosophy is that HR is a service organization that serves the balance between the interest of the employee and the City and County of Denver.

“I look forward to meeting everyone and will commit my energies to mentor the current team of HR professionals, review and update process as needed as well as partner with leadership on strategic initiatives,” said Cyndi.

Prior to relocating to Denver, Cyndi spent 13 years as the Executive Vice President of Human Resources for Electronic Transaction Consultants in Richardson, Texas and five years as the Director of Human Resources for Securus Technologies based in Denver and Carrollton, Texas. 

Please join us in welcoming Cyndi!
Public Safety Night with the Colorado Rapids - June 1
Congratulations Deputy Director Jess Vigil!
At the end of March, the Department of Public Safety said good bye to Deputy Director Jess Vigil. Jess or “the Judge,” as many called him, joined the department in April 2012 to oversee discipline for sworn personnel. We wish him well on the next step in his journey. He will be missed!
EDOS Staff Volunteer with the Denver Rescue Mission
As a part of the Denver Opportunity Index, staff members from the Executive Director’s office spent an afternoon at the Denver Rescue Mission preparing food for the dinner crowd.

To allow opportunities for all Public Safety staff to gain a better understanding of the community we’re all tasked to serve, Director Riggs is finalizing a volunteer program that will allow all our staff to spend time volunteering. Stay tuned for more details in the coming month. 
Required ADA Training – Due May 10
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title II training is required for all city employees. The 3-hour online course will be available in the City and County of Denver’s new learning platform—Workday Learning—beginning on Monday, April 29 th and must be completed by Friday, May 10 th .
Denver Sheriff Department Celebrates the Graduation of Academy Class 2018-3
DSD Academy Class 2018-3 graduated on March 1 and the new deputies are already hard at work at the Denver County Jail and the Downtown Detention Center. Welcome to the Public Safety team!
Denver Police Department Promotions
On February 22, DPD celebrated the promotion of six officers at a ceremony held in the auditorium on the Loretto Heights campus. 

Michelle Folmar was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant , and the following officers were promoted to the rank of Sergeant :

  • Tyler Blakesley
  • Bobby Fambrough
  • Jeffrey Masciangelo
  • Larry D. Black
  • Roger Rogeson

Congratulations to all!
Denver 9-1-1 Kicks Off to National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week by Recognizing 2018 Employees of the Year
On April 14, Denver 9-1-1 celebrated their hard-working staff with an awards ceremony that recognized the best of the best for 2018. Nominated by their peers, the following staff members were recognized as employees of the year.

Denver 9-1-1 Administration/Support Employee of the Year:
Leroy Bunn

Denver 9-1-1 Committee Participant of the Year:
Aimee Lurie

Denver 9-1-1 Communication Training Officer of the Year:
Nate Acuna

Denver 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Technician of the Year:
Amber Cass

Denver 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher of the Year:
Amber Diagostine

Denver 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Supervisor of the Year:
Gina Romero

Denver Health Paramedic Division EMS Supervisor of the Year:
Steve Evans

Denver Fire Department Communications Employee of the Year:
Doug Mangles

Denver Fire Department Supervisor of the Year:
Jeff Windecker

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week celebrates and honors the thousands of men and women who respond to emergency calls, dispatch emergency professionals and render life-saving support to the community.

Top Denver Police Officers Recognized at Police Foundation Event
On April 18, 18 Denver Police officers were recognized for courageous, heroic and lifesaving actions at the annual Denver Police Foundation luncheon. Some of the actions of the officers that were honored include the safe arrest of a man who was attempting to stab officers, saving an elderly woman from a burning house and de-escalating a suicidal and heavily armed man. For these actions and others, officers were recognized with the highest awards given by the department.

Chairman’s Legacy Award:
Retired Detective William “Billy” Gallegos

Above and Beyond Award:
Sergeant Bobby Waidler

Officer of the Year:
Detective James Anderson

Medal of Honor and Purple Heart:
Officer Travis Lloyd

Medal of Valor:
Officer Sean Egan Drew
Sergeant Jess Leuthauser
Lieutenant Edward Leger
Officer Brent Cairns
Corporal Greg Vacca

Distinguished Service Cross:
Sergeant Perry Speelman
Officer Juan Gamboa
Officer Raul Barron
Detective Randall Krouse
Officer Martin Tritschler

Preservation of Life:
Detective Randall Krouse
Officer Martin Tritschler
Officer Vincent Robert Talty
Officer Michael Pineda
Officer John Ashcraft
Officer Nicole Batiste
Officer Andrew Stadler
Suicide Leading Cause of Death Among First Responders  
The leading cause of occupational death among Colorado’s police and other first responders is suicide, mirroring a disturbing national trend that’s challenging public safety leaders to offer better support. 

A statewide study found 196 suicide deaths among Colorado first responders between 2004 and 2014 — three times the number of lives lost in the line of duty. Denver has lost five first responders to suicide in just the past year. 

Nationwide, more police, firefighters and other first responders died in 2017 by suicide than from all causes of death in the line of duty combined — from car accidents to shootings. Three times as many police officers (140) took their own lives than were fatally shot (46), according to a study commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation.

First responders frequently face disturbing and traumatic events, often involving injury and death. Exposure to trauma puts them at greater risk for anxiety, depression, alcohol and substance abuse, strained relationships, post-traumatic symptoms, such as sleep problems and heightened reactivity — and suicide.

“Suicide is a symptom of trauma,” says Dr. John Nicoletti, a board-certified specialist in police and public safety psychology. “In order to prevent a suicide, the person has to self-report or there has to be a detector. We need increased awareness around suicide. If you see something, say something.”

Dr. Nicoletti advocates training supervisors and colleagues to be detectors who know what to look for — the types of suicide triggers — macro, which are traumatic external events, and micro, which is what’s going on inside a person’s head. Peer-to-peer support is a critical component of suicide prevention.

Don’t assume someone doesn’t really mean what they’re saying about suicide, or that they’re just having a bad day, Dr. Nicoletti says.

"Silence is deadly,” researchers conclude. It conveys a lack of acceptance or stigma that stops many from receiving mental health services. Of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the country, fewer than five percent of departments had suicide prevention programs at the time of the Ruderman study.

Denver Public Safety has one of the best policies in the country, according to Dr. Nicoletti. Staff, their spouses and children can come visit with anyone at Nicoletti-Flater Associates, at no cost to themselves and with no limits on the number of sessions.

Emergency responders from across Colorado have joined together to improve suicide-prevention efforts, creating ResponderStrong organization in partnership with the National Mental Health Innovation Center at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. The group has grown from 35 members in 2016 to more than 500 today.

“Trauma is an injury … like a broken leg,” says Rhonda Kelly, a 17-year veteran of the Aurora Fire Department who is now director of ResponderStrong. “There are physiological and neurological changes. Neurotransmitters are in overdrive. Responders are going to be impacted. But they can recover.”

In 2017, ResponderStrong surveyed more than 768 emergency response leaders across Colorado about the mental health of their personnel and their resources to address the issue.Most leaders saw the primary barriers to care boiling down to three main factors: a culture of stoicism and the lack of time and money.

ResponderStrong calls for departments and staff to reject the view that a normal human response to continual stressors is a sign of weakness that must be hidden. Just like caring for the community, It takes strength to take care of yourself and your colleagues when needed.

In addition to Nicoletti-Flater Associates, public safety staff have access to additional resources through their own agencies, the City and County of Denver and the State of Colorado. Click here for more information.

“Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem,
smarter than you think and loved more than you know.”

— Christopher Robin, A.A. Milne
Our Safety Newsletter will be distributed bi-monthly. If you have something you’d like to include in a future issue, please send an email to PublicSafety@denvergov.org .  

Department of Public Safety | City and County of Denver | O: 720.913.7458 | F: 720.913.7028 | PublicSafety@denvergov.org | www.denvergov.org/safety