Monday, September 25, 2017

Coloradans aid in emergency responses to hurricanes Harvey and Irma

Numerous members of Colorado's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) mobilized their expertise and experience to help with the massive responses to hurricanes Harvey and Irma in September.

Jeremy Utter at the National Response Coordination Center.
First, Logistics Section Chief Jeremy Utter deployed to the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., in anticipation of Hurricane Harvey. He served as part of the National Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) Liaison Team. EMAC is a mutual aid agreement between states and territories of the United States, which enables states to share resources during natural and man-made disasters. Jeremy originally deployed for Hurricane Harvey coordination and held over to support Hurricane Irma. He worked with state and federal agencies to provide resource support to impacted states and territories.

Colorado Emergency Management personnel ready to deploy to Florida.
Then, on Sept. 9, DHSEM coordinated the deployment of 24 emergency management professionals from various agencies across Colorado to Florida. The 24 individuals broke into four teams to provide emergency operations center (EOC) support Florida as part of an EMAC request for Hurricane Irma. The team included the following DHSEM employees: Field Services Manager Bruce Holloman; Regional Field Managers Christe Coleman, Kevin Kuretich, Drew Petersen and Cory Stark; and Logistics member Tim Washington.

The Colorado contingent on site in the Florida Keys.

While deployed in the Florida Keys, the Team supported Monroe County and the Florida Keys with plans for Debris Management, Critical Infrastructure Restoration, Re-entry and Short-term Recovery.

Nate Whittington on assignment.
Additionally, DHSEM field services member Nate Whittington deployed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as part of the FEMA Disaster Medical Assistance Team. Nate assisted in setting up a Field Hospital on St. Thomas and supported coordination efforts for the evacuations of Critical Care Patients from the Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico.

Nate's work was so appreciated that he received a commendation from Andy Swartzell, Deputy Commander for the California Disaster Medical Assistance Team #6, for the work Nate did to support the team's efforts to evacuate and care for patients in Puerto Rico under the worst of conditions. Mr. Swartzell wrote, “Nate, I doubt any of this would have occurred without your support and resourcefulness. I doubt many know what you did to help us, and the hospital, but you should be commended for your actions.”

Emergency responders' work doesn't end when the storm passes, however. As of Sept. 22, fourteen Colorado responders continued to be deployed in Florida. Meanwhile, DHSEM's Recovery team members have mobilized to assist with the long process of helping communities recover. Jaclyn Kurle and Robyn Knappe are serving with the State of Florida and assisting with the response and recovery from Hurricane Irma. Their first assignment was to staff recovery alliance meetings with 100 people, including 80 teenagers who are providing clean-up and muck-out assistance. The Colorado team is also working the national emergency grant that employs displaced workers after a disaster.

Robyn Knappe and Jaclyn Kurle.
And every disaster response has a hero behind the scenes who is helping to make it all possible. DHSEM's Denise Popish supported these efforts from here in Colorado, taking care of details for various EMAC deployments over the past two weeks. Denise worked an unbelievable number of hours (day and night) to coordinate travel, lodging, documentation and provide instructions about the reimbursement process for Hurricane Irma, as well as working through state-level reimbursements for Hurricane Harvey and EMAC deployments supporting California flood recovery.

Check out this real-time map of where Colorado emergency responders are deployed and providing assistance!

Friday, September 22, 2017

CDPS Employees Invited to Join "Day of Giving" on Oct. 11, 2017

By Germaine Miera

As Colorado state employees, we have a strong history of giving, caring and sharing. On Wednesday, Oct.11, the Department of Public Safety will host a "Day of Giving" featuring two opportunities to "get your giving on" and make a difference in our community.

First, Director Stan Hilkey and Deputy Director Bec Spiess will kick off the department's annual Colorado Combined Campaign (CCC) with Stan and Bec’s CCC Coffee Shop from 9-10 am at the main entrance to 700 Kipling St. in Lakewood. Drop by to make your Combined Campaign charitable pledge, enjoy a cup of coffee and/or bagels, mingle with CDPS colleagues, and enter to win prizes.

Second, the Colorado State Patrol has coordinated a CDPS employee blood drive from 9 am-2 pm at the Kipling Complex. Bonfils will be on site with their mobile blood donation center. CDPS employees showed overwhelming interest in this giving opportunity, so all time slots are already full. Sgt. John Ehmsen is maintaining a wait-list for those who would like to fill in for cancellations or express their interest in participating in future blood drives.

Can't make the events on Oct. 11? Read below for details on how you can still participate in the Colorado Combined Campaign. Additionally, the State Patrol will be participating in "Tip-a-Cop" events in Aurora and Arvada on Oct. 21 that offer an opportunity to give time or donations in support of the Special Olympics. Contact Rob Madden to sign up for a shift or find out more.

Colorado Combined Campaign Details
 It’s easy to give and you can give anytime, from now until December 31. Donate online (no registration required) or by filling out a paper pledge form that you can email to Germaine Miera, CDPS CCC Coordinator.

Whatever your passion, whatever amount you’re able to give, know that when you give through the CCC, you’re a member of a community that comes together to make a million-dollar difference in Colorado. For more information, visit www.coloradocombinedcampaign.org.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Colorado Releases Helpful Guidelines on Sexual Assault Reporting Options

A statewide group of experts led by the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice have released a helpful new set of guidelines to help those who work with victims of sexual assault understand Colorado's sexual assault reporting laws.

"Sexual Assault Reporting Options: Guidelines for Response" was compiled by the statewide Forensic Compliance Team (FCT), a group of multidisciplinary stakeholders from across the criminal justice system, medical, and advocacy sectors. The document contains step-by-step information on Colorado’s three reporting options for sexual assault survivors, payment options, advocacy recommendations, evidence testing, and other useful information related to the support of sexual assault survivors in Colorado.

It was created in response to a needs assessment the Forensic Compliance Team conducted in 2013 in an effort to provide community stakeholders specific support and information on implementing Colorado’s Violence against Women Act forensic compliance laws.

Its creators hope the document will help local law enforcement, victim advocates and others understand Colorado sexual assault reporting laws as well as the roles and responsibilities of partners in the criminal justice system, medical, and victim advocacy sectors.

"Each of us are committed to the same goal: supporting survivors and holding sex offenders accountable," wrote Lisa Ingarfield,  Director of the Sexual Assault Response Program within DCJ's Office for Victims Programs, in a letter announcing the publication.

Under current law, specified medical licensees and nurses are required to report a sexual assault to law enforcement only if evidence is collected; if a report is required, the victim can choose which type of report is made:
1. Law enforcement report,
2. Medical report, or
3. Anonymous report.

The Guidelines define what each of these reporting options is and provides suggested best practices for how to handle each type of report.

  • Law Enforcement Report: When a victim chooses to obtain a medical forensic exam and chooses to participate in the criminal justice system at that time.
  • Medical Report: A victim chooses to obtain a medical forensic exam but at that time chooses to not participate in the criminal justice system. Evidence and information to law enforcement is released with victim identifying information. A medical reporting victim can choose to have evidence tested.
  • Anonymous Report: A victim chooses to obtain a medical forensic exam but at that time chooses to not participate in the criminal justice system. Evidence and information to law enforcement is released without victim identifying information. An anonymous reporting victim is consenting to evidence storage only.

  • Nationally, since 2005, there has been a philosophical shift and accompanying statutory changes (at the state and federal level) regarding response to sexual assault victims. That shift acknowledges that providing victim-centered reporting options can begin to restore the power and control victims lose during an assault, promoting improved long-term outcomes for victims, improved investigations, and stronger prosecutions. Colorado’s current statutory structure enables victims to determine a course of action, with multidisciplinary responders acting from the victims’ decisions.

    Access the full Guidelines document on the CCASA web site.

    Friday, September 15, 2017

    Colorado State Patrol Establishes Roadside Tributes to Fallen Troopers

    By Sgt. Rob Madden
    Since the inception of the Colorado State Patrol in 1935, 27 men and women have paid the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives for the State of Colorado.

    On April 21, 2016, Governor John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 16-1060, concerning Roadside Memorials for Fallen State Patrol Officers. This bill permanently entrusts that fallen Colorado State Troopers who have given their lives in the line of duty will be honored with a simple sign to remind motorists of the life lost. 

    Beginning in August 2017, the Colorado State Patrol has been honoring fallen troopers by reaching out to their families to arrange a tribute to unveil the sign with their family member’s name. The following members have already been honored as their signs were unveiled. The remaining members will have their signs unveiled in future months.

    A special thanks to Governor Hickenlooper and the many members of House of Representatives and Senate that passed this bill to forever memorialize the memories of these great men and women. A further thanks to the Colorado State Patrol Women’s Resource Network and the Colorado State Patrol Family Foundation for leading the charge to begin the conversation about making this thought a reality. The Colorado Department of Transportation has been instrumental in turning the signed bill into the physical roadside memorial signs.

    Patrolman Harold M. Bechtelheimer
    End Of Watch (EOW): September 14, 1949
    Patrolman Bechtelheimer (Beck) was the first Colorado State Patrol Officer to be slain in the line of duty. While patrolling Highway 85-87 north of Colorado Springs, he encountered a green Buick traveling southbound at a high speed. Before Beck could approach the vehicle, the passenger exited the car and came around the back of the car behind Beck. Beck spun around and struck him with his flashlight. The passenger shot Beck in the chest and in the left arm. Beck returned to his patrol car to call for help, before dying of his injuries. The driver and passenger were apprehended later that evening north of Colorado Springs and were sentenced to life in prison.
    Bechtelheimer entered the Patrol December 1, 1944.

    Sergeant Willis Hugh Purdy 
    EOW: July 31, 1976
    Sergeant Purdy had finished his shift when dispatchers informed him of severe weather problems in the Big Thompson Canyon, west of Loveland. As Purdy proceeded into the canyon, he ordered evacuation in the lower areas below the canyon, a decision that saved hundreds of lives. Purdy encountered the torrent coming from the Devil’s Gulch tributary of the Big Thompson River and was attempting to turn himself and others away from it. Purdy’s last words to dispatch were at 9:15 p.m. Purdy was found on a sandbar eight miles below the point where he was last seen. Purdy’s patrol car was found two miles east of Drake at the bottom of a pile of eight cars. The only identifiable object was the metal key ring still in the ignition.
    Purdy entered the Patrol May 22, 1950.

    Trooper Charles Fry
    EOW: September 26, 1987
    Trooper Fry was on routine patrol of Interstate 25 when he contacted a northbound vehicle south of the Douglas County line. He was issuing a traffic citation when a drunken driver struck Fry as he stood by the vehicle. The drunk driver failed to stop and was later apprehended by another Trooper. The suspect was convicted of vehicular homicide.
    Fry entered the Patrol May 3, 1976.

    Trooper Jaimie L. Jursevics
    EOW: November 15, 2015
    Trooper Jaimie Jursevics stopped her patrol vehicle on the inside shoulder of I-25 south of Castle Rock in an effort to protect the scene of a previous crash being investigated by a fellow Trooper. At approximately 2045 hours, Trooper Jursevics was notified of a possible drunk driver headed southbound on I-25. Trooper Jursevics made contact with the reporting party and learned the suspect vehicle was approaching her location. Trooper Jursevics immediately began attempts to flag down the suspect vehicle from outside her patrol car. Moments later, the reported drunk driver collided with Trooper Jursevics, killing her instantly. The suspect vehicle fled the scene but was apprehended by the Palmer Lake Police Department. The suspect was taken into custody and charged with vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a fatal crash, driving under the influence and several other offenses.
    Jursevics entered the Patrol January 9, 2011.

    Trooper Cody Donahue 
    EOW: November 25, 2016
    Trooper Cody Donahue was assisting with the investigation of a previous motor vehicle crash along northbound I-25 near Castle Rock in Douglas County, Colorado.  While he stood on the right shoulder of the interstate, a commercial motor vehicle struck Trooper Donahue, killing him instantly.
    Donahue entered the Patrol on June 30, 2005

    Trooper Taylor Thyfault 
    EOW: May 23, 2015
    Trooper Taylor Thyfault was riding along with Trooper Clinton Rushing as part of his ongoing training at the Colorado State Patrol Academy. During the early morning hours, Trooper Thyfault and Trooper Rushing responded to a three-car crash on Colorado Highway 66. Shortly after 8:00 a.m., another State Trooper attempted to stop a vehicle in the area of I-25 and Colorado Highway 66. The suspect eluded the trooper and drove towards the crash scene where Trooper Rushing was waiting to deploy stop sticks. The suspect hit Trooper Rushing and Trooper Thyfault while eluding the pursuing trooper.   Seconds before he was struck, Trooper Thyfault instructed a tow truck driver to move and take cover to avoid being hit by the fleeing suspect. Trooper Thyfault succumbed to his injuries instantly at the scene.
    Thyfault entered the Patrol March 15, 2015.

    Leadership Strategies Institute Graduates Inaugural Cohort of Leaders

    On Aug. 31, the Colorado Department of Public Safety celebrated the graduation of 39 members of its inaugural Leadership Strategies Institute and the launch of the second group of participants.

    Director Hilkey speaks at the graduation.
    CDPS Executive Director Stan Hilkey, Executive Director Bec Spiess, and directors from each of the department’s five divisions attended the event.

    The Institute engages formal and informal leaders in developing a culture of collaboration, communication and innovation. Each “cohort” participates over the course of a full year, with a focus on specific issues and desired outcomes; ultimately, the aim is to develop a “brain trust” for developing systems and strategies for breaking down silos and creating common leadership standards and consistent and efficient processes across the department.

    “The vision of this effort was to bring everybody together, to share common goals, to share a common understanding of what the Department is and what it’s about," Director Hilkey said. "It is a remarkable thing as a leader to have a vision and see it materialize before your eyes.”

    LSI Cohorts 1 (right) and 2 (left)
    Participants in the inaugural cohort included members from all of the department’s divisions with representation from across the state and a variety of formal and informal leadership roles within the organization.

    This first cohort focused on:

    • Creating alignment with, and awareness of, a common mission and shared values among all of the divisions; aligning strategies
    • Sharing division strengths and innovations
    • Encouraging employee engagement. 
    While engaged in their formal work, the participants also built and strengthened inter-divisional and cross-state relationships -- a key component in enhancing collaboration and communication. Many expressed the feeling that the most important thing to come out of the LSI was the network and relationships they developed which now cross divisions.

    "The first cohort took a step of faith and made the inaugural year a huge success," said Beth Roome, Organizational Development & Training Manager for CDPS. Roome leads a Design Team that plans and carries out the Leadership Strategies Institute. "The Design Team for this institute carried a tremendous load as both developers and participants in the institute; ultimately the LSI was successful because we had foundational support from the Executive Leadership Team."
    The current LSI Design Team, led by Beth Roome (left).

    In addition to celebrating the successful conclusion of the first year of the LSI, the event kicked off the start of the second cohort of participants. This second group, composed of 37 new members, will take a deep dive into employee engagement.

    The Leadership Strategies Institute is part of a broader effort by leadership within CDPS to unify the various divisions of the department under a shared mission and vision, with enhanced communication, collaboration, innovation, and engagement.

    "Our most precious commodity is trust. If we were a company and we built a product it, would be trust. What I see here is that you have built trust in each other and relationships with each other. And, as you go about your busy work in this big bureaucracy of state government, that trust will benefit you in ways that you are probably not even thinking of already," Hilkey told the audience of combined cohorts during the graduation ceremony. "You’re going to bump into each other, or perhaps you’re going to get out of your lane and make these trespasses that just happen; but because of the trust that you have in each other, because of a common mission of making our state and our citizens safer, those kinds of brush-ups will not derail the relationships you have formed. A strong relationship survives all of those kinds of things that happen."

    CDPS employees interested in finding out more about the LSI can visit the LSI website (only accessible to state employees).



    CBI ID Theft & Fraud Experts Offer Tips for Protecting Yourself After Equifax Data Breach

    by Hazel Heckers, Victim Advocate, CBI Identity Theft & Fraud Investigation Unit
    The recent announcement regarding the data breach at Equifax has many people concerned about how to respond and protect your identity from ID thieves. Equifax is just the most recent of a number of data breaches that have impacted the majority of Americans. Here are some steps we recommend everyone take to protect yourself and your family from ID thieves and data breaches.

    • Assume your information has been breached and act on that assumption. This is one time when assuming the worst will actually protect you.
    • If you already have a credit monitoring/ID theft protection service, contact them immediately to determine what assistance they can offer you.
    •  Obtain a copy of your credit report. You may obtain a copy here: https://www.annualcreditreport.com
    • Set up a Fraud Alert or Credit Freeze with the Credit Reporting Agencies. 
    • At this time, you may have difficulty placing the Fraud Alert or Credit Freeze at Equifax. Go ahead and set it up with the other two credit reporting agencies, and return to Equifax at a later date to set things up.
    • Consider your children’s credit reports as well as your own. Your child may not have a credit report, but it doesn’t hurt to try and check it out. In Colorado, the law says that “all consumers” may place a credit freeze. If your child does have a credit report, as that person’s guardian or parent, you may freeze their credit to protect them.
    • Notify ALL of your financial institutions that you may be the victim of a data breach and see what protections they have available to protect your accounts. This includes your bank or credit union and all of your credit card or loan companies.
    • Monitor your accounts for any suspicious or fraudulent activities. This may mean accessing your online accounts. If you choose to access accounts online, just remember to use strong passwords and make sure you are not accessing your account on a public Wi-Fi network.
    • Check your mail for anything that may indicate that someone is using your ID to try and obtain credit.
    • Opt Out of pre-approved credit offers. Find out how here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0148-prescreened-credit-and-insurance-offers
    • Request a year end analysis of services provided from your health insurance provider. This will show what doctor visits or other medical services have been billed to your insurance. This will help you determine if someone is using your medical ID.
    • You may want to consider setting up an account with My Social Security. This is a way for you to review what is happening with your social security benefits and better understand what is being reported using your social security number. Sometimes ID thieves will try to set up this account using your ID. If you already have an account established, the thief will not be able to get into your account. This site does require two step authentication (2 passwords) for extra protection. Learn more or sign up here: https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/
    • If you KNOW that your ID has been breached, complete an IRS Form 14039 (IRS ID Theft Affidavit) to alert the IRS that someone else may file fraudulent tax returns in your name. Find this form and instructions here: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf
    • If you do not already have a credit monitoring/ID theft protection service, you may want to research options available to you. Consumer Reports Online and other online consumer agencies will provide comparisons and guidance in deciding if this is a good option for you.
    • If you notice anything suspicious in any of your accounts or your mail, don’t ignore it. Check it out!
    • Be very careful about emails or text messages you may receive offering your assistance in fixing the data breach problems. These are most likely scams! DO NOT click on any links or open attachments. Simply delete. If you receive a similar phone call—hang up on the caller. DO NOT give out any personal information!

    Data Breaches can be scary, but help is available. By taking a few simple steps and working closely with your local law enforcement, financial institutions and specialized victim advocates, you will be
    able to recover and repair the damage.

    For more information or if you have questions, please contact the Colorado Bureau of Investigation
    Identity Theft & Fraud Investigations Unit: