GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – Law enforcement officers in Jefferson County are coming together with faith leaders to better equip them for potentially unsafe situations. The Safety in Faith Summit is kicking off its fifth year on Tuesday, as part of an effort led by Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader.
Shrader says he was inspired by a fellow sheriff out of Charleston, South Carolina.
“In the summer of 2015, I was attending a training sponsored by the FBI in Washington, D.C. We had a free evening, a few of us went to a Washington Nationals baseball game,” Shrader explained. “He got a call that the shootings were going on at the Emanuel AME Church, and I ended up walking him back to the hotel because he had to get on an airplane. I was able to hear his side of the conversation as he was talking to people on his staff and community leaders and faith leaders.”
Then, something just clicked for Shrader.
“Although I couldn’t hear the entirety of the conversation, I heard bits and pieces and it caused me to ask the question of my staff when I came back: How connected to our faith leaders are we? While we do things, the answer was that we can do better,” he said.
That’s why he decided to launch the summit; faith is essential to many in Colorado, and in Jefferson County.
“80% of the people in our community identify with a religion. 40% participate in religious or faith based activities, and 20% participate regularly every week,” added Shrader. “And with the events happening recently, we thought it was an appropriate conversation to have and it would support our mission because we just want Jefferson County to be a safe place for all people to live learn work and play.”
Local faith-based advocates say they’re thankful the sheriff’s office is working to nurture their relationships with education.
“It is critical that the public and private sectors partner in this way with law enforcement to promote safety and security,” said Jeremy Shaver, Associate Regional Director for the Mountain States Region Anti-Defamation League.
“There’s something also that’s very key — these active shooters or active threats get a lot of attention, rightfully so because they have very tragic consequences — because the security concerns facing houses of worship are much broader. They range from accidental fire to natural disasters. It’s important to have a plan for all these types of threats to enhance safety and security,” added Shaver.
Everyone is welcome, and attendees don’t necessarily have to live in Jefferson County. To learn more about the free event, visit jeffco.us.