Service Dog: In, Student Resource Officer: Out
JD5 Member Has Tails Wagging
Sometimes everyone needs a furry hug or someone to just sit and listen during a difficult time. So meet Lola, a three-year-old Australian Shephard and the most recent member of the 5th Judicial District’s (JD5) team.
Over the last few years, service animals have seen a steady rise in popularity, not to mention effectiveness, from personal service animals to law enforcement to hospitals to everyday life. Research has proven that service animals can reduce stress in people dealing with very real-world issues and challenges.
Seeing the trend, JD5 began looking at ways it could not only do its job of ‘prosecuting bad guys’, but how it could help those affected most by crime and its many victims. Enter Lola, a four-legged helper from Paws for LEOs (LEO’s stands for Law Enforcement Officers) who joined the team earlier this year. Anchored in Buena Vista Paws for LEOs is a “…not for profit organization started in 2015 as the only organization to provide service dogs solely to law enforcement officers, emergency service providers, firefighters, search and rescue, and other first responders and their families…,” per their website.
“We are very excited to have Lola on our team, and announce this first of its kind program here to help our community in some of the toughest times they deal with,” said Bruce Brown, 5th Judicial District Attorney. “Not every crime has a clear cut answer, and Lola provides that bridge to help our most vulnerable deal with these tough situations and move on in life. Lola has been trained to assist victims’ advocates and juvenile diversion clients to provide emotional support and trauma relief.
However, as smart as Lola is she does have a few limitations. She can’t drive, or type on the computer, or answer the phone. That’s where Nancy Abila comes in. Serving as the Victim Services Coordinator in the JD5’s Lake County Office, Abila is not only the handler for Lola, but her family. Lola lives with Abila in Leadville and comes to work with her every day.
“She is a very smart dog, and seems to enjoy her job,” said Abila. That job runs the gamut between helping those in the Juvenile Diversion Program, to visiting schools in Lake and Summit Counties, to paying special attention to kids with emotional or mental disabilities. Lola is also there to assist family members (especially children) after tough interviews related to victim advocate issues and other legal challenges. While not yet trained for being in the courtroom, Lola does bring a lot to the table.
“In the end, we think this is a real positive thing for our community and makes a tough process a little better,” said DA Brown. You may contact the District Attorney’s Office at DA5- P.O. Box 488, Breckenridge, CO 80424. (970) 453-2327. Or online at www.da5.us.
Leadville Police Department Staff Changes
On Saturday, Oct. 5 Leadville Police Chief Saige Bertolas distributed the following press release to media outlets via Lake County Public Information Officer Betty Benson regarding recent department staff changes.
Over the last six (6) weeks there have been several staff changes at the Police Department. Despite staff changes, the Leadville Police Department continues to serve this community with professionalism, courtesy, and diligence in all circumstances. Because staff changes are personnel matters, the reasons for resignations or terminations cannot be released to the public.
Chief Bertolas states that “the police department continues to see staff changes, so three (3) resignations over the last six weeks is not uncommon in this field. In that these resignations, are all personnel matters, we are not able to comment or provide additional information. The Leadville Police Department will continue serving Leadville & Lake County in all of our duties, including seeking the most qualified personnel to staff our department as well as continue to improve our service to this community.”
Based on the job postings, those resignations include the newly sworn-in Student Resource Officer (SRO). There has been no official comment from the Lake County School District concerning the resignation for a position that parents and staff have been advocating be re-established at schools in conjunction with the restorative justice program. In fact, as of October 7, the SRO position had not been posted on the school district’s website with other employment opportunities. The other positions listed on the City of Leadville website for the LPD include Police Officer.
Chief Bertolas asks the community that if you are aware of qualified (and post certified) individuals who would love to live in the mountains and serve in a growing and responsive department, please have them check the job openings.