By Kristen Foust
On October 24, Victim Assistance Director Dolores “Dee” Poeppel was presented with the Exemplary Leadership Award from the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance (COVA). The
Exemplary Leadership Award is given to an individual who has provided outstanding leadership at
the statewide level to the victims’ movement.
In her nearly 39 years with the Colorado State Patrol, Dee has influenced significant changes in the way traffic victims are viewed and treated in the state of Colorado. To say she is a pioneer in this field would be an understatement.
It’s hard to envision a day when victims of traffic crimes were overlooked and underserved, but when Dee began her career with the Colorado State Patrol in 1978, she experienced what this was like, and set forth to make a difference. When Dee was hired by the Colorado State Patrol she first worked as an Administrative Assistant out of the Glenwood Springs troop office. Dee realized very early on that there was a need for a victim services unit within the Colorado State Patrol, and in 1991 she wrote her first grant to obtain funding for the program. Dee has built the CSP’s Victim Assistance Unit from the ground up and has gone from covering every single fatal and serious injury crash in the entire state (which she did alone for five years), to now overseeing a unit of seven full-time advocates. She not only writes the grants and administers the program from a supervisory level, she has never lost sight of where she began, and still responds to crashes; assisting victims and making a true difference each and every day.
The Colorado State Patrol was one of the first Highway Patrol Agencies in the United States to create a Victim Assistance Unit. Until recently, we were only one of three Highway Patrol Agencies that have a specific unit in place to assist victims of traffic crimes. Just as Dee was pivotal in starting the Colorado State Patrol’s Victim Assistance Unit, she has led the way and paved the path for other agencies who now not only recognize the need for service to traffic victims, but have created their own program as well, many of which have even been modeled after ours.
Dee’s vision, passion and dedication to serving traffic victims was also recognized by the United States Department of Justice in 2006 when her unit received the award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services. We would like to thank Dee for her nearly four decades of service to victims of crime and congratulate her on her award.