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17th Judicial District Attorney’s Response to the Rise in Domestic Violence Cases During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By District Attorney Brian Mason · 07-19-2023

The United States experienced an alarming rise in domestic violence incidents following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Daily routines were altered, stressors added, and the abnormal became normal. That rise was felt here in Colorado and in the 17th Judicial District (Adams and Broomfield Counties).  

Prosecuting domestic violence cases is a top priority for the District Attorney’s Office. Our data shows there were 2,099 domestic violence cases in our district in 2019. That number rose to 2,176 in 2020 and an even higher 2,227 cases in 2021.  After a slight decline in 2022, the first part of 2023 shows our highest first quarter total of domestic violence cases of the last five years.

In response to the rise in domestic violence cases and to address the lethality risk that so many of these incidents create for victims, the DA’s Office, in partnership with multiple law enforcement agencies and community-based service providers, launched a Domestic Violence High Risk Team (DVHRT). This multidisciplinary team, which began its work in early 2022, provides an enhanced and collaborative response to domestic violence situations.  Our goal is to provide immediate support and services to victims and children in high risk domestic violence situations.

The Domestic Violence High Risk Team began a pilot program in early 2022 with the Thornton Police Department that has now expanded to other municipalities to include the Broomfield and Brighton Police Departments. The DVHRT identifies the highest-risk cases and then triages them, quickly identifying lethality factors and providing immediate services to victims.

In February of 2022, the still new DVHRT only touched one percent of the overall DV cases that came into the DA’s Office.   One year later, in February of 2023, that number rose to 18 percent.  The DVHRT is making a noticeable impact on these highest-risk cases.  A $2 million federal grant, made possible by Colorado’s United States Representatives Ed Perlmutter, Jason Crow and Joe Neguse, provided critical funding for the DVHRT to increase its reach. 

The Domestic Violence High Risk Team is a stepping stone towards our long-term goal of creating a Family Justice Center for all of Adams and Broomfield counties. This community-based, multi-disciplinary, co-located service facility would allow those impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking to access critical services in one centralized location. 

Domestic violence is a scourge on society that requires all of us to work together.  That’s precisely what we are doing with these partnerships and the exceptional work of the DVHRT.