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The recent George Floyd killing and the resulting protests have only exacerbated the stress and uncertainty we’ve all experienced in the past several months. The Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners has always tried to serve, protect, appreciate and respect everyone who lives and works in our communities. But we realize that words like these can seem meaningless if they aren’t accompanied by actions.
In recent years, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office adopted practices such as mandatory body cameras and anti-bias and diversity training. The department has banned chokeholds within its use of force policy for more than a decade. The Arapahoe County Justice Coordinating Committee – created by the Board of County Commissioners in 2007 – has discussed the need to make improvements to our criminal justice system, recently prioritizing further discussions on behavioral health-based alternatives to jail, better communications and more robust partnerships between law enforcement and behavioral health programs, and the establishment of a local racial equity think tank to help bring accountability and best practices to agencies and underserved communities.
As we conduct these ongoing discussions, the Board welcomes any and all feedback from our residents and business owners, as well as from anyone else who has thoughts or suggestions about how we can continue to improve the quality of life for everyone in Arapahoe County. We recognize that with a wide variety of communities and populations, what matters is that we hear and respond to diverse voices in equal measure, with openness and empathy.
We must continue to listen, learn, and have constructive conversations around these difficult issues, and any others that may arise. And we must take determined action, via concrete programs and policies, to remedy any structural or systemic flaws these dialogues reveal. By communicating freely with each other, we can handle new challenges in ways that consider all points of view and all walks of life. We Board members are devoted to ensuring that Arapahoe County remains the place we’re proud to call home, and we embrace the opportunity to discover fresh ideas about how best to accomplish this.