Weekly begins term as sheriff

Plans to add deputies, assess and make changes

Haley Lena
hlena@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/20/23

Taking his place as Douglas County’s 34th Sheriff, Darren Weekly has taken steps to put more deputies with proper training on the frontline, including adding 27 deputy sheriff positions that will be divided between patrol and detentions.

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Weekly begins term as sheriff

Plans to add deputies, assess and make changes

Posted

Taking his place as Douglas County’s 34th Sheriff, Darren Weekly has taken steps to put more deputies with proper training on the frontline, including adding 27 deputy sheriff positions that will be divided between patrol and detentions. 

Weekly said his top priority is to reassess all commission positions in the department. The process started after Weekly was sworn in in early January.

To provide a better front end service for both deputies and citizens, Weekly has dissolved the Pattern Crimes Unit and moved them to the street. 

“They were doing a good job, it wasn’t like they weren’t working, but I think we’d be better off putting those cops on the street in unmarked cars, answering calls for service,” said Weekly. 

To keep up with the county’s growing population, Weekly is going to add an additional crime analyst, staying within the current budget. The analysts will look at the calls for service that come in, reports the deputies take and by using heat maps, will be able to identify where crime is likely to occur and provide that information to the deputies. 

From Weekly’s perspective, every deputy sheriff that is out on the street should be a pattern crimes deputy. 

“So they all have the data and the information to know where to be, where crime is occuring, not only for crimes, but also traffic concerns, traffic complaints and crashes that are occuring out there,” Weekly said. 

Another goal within the hiring process is to concentrate on making the department more diverse, Weekly said. Whether it’s civilian or commissioned, the new sheriff wants the hiring unit to go into other parts of the metro area and recruit people from all different backgrounds to apply for positions within the organization. 

Douglas County is at a crossroads 

After being sworn in as sheriff, Weekly said Douglas County is at a crossroads. 

“We have homelessness that’s growing in Douglas County,” said Weekly. “Douglas County is not used to that. Douglas County is not used to having officer involved shootings. Douglas County is not used to having residential burglaries. It does now, our community has grown and crime has encroached.” 

As sheriff, Weekly wants to focus on educating the public about crime trends in the community. Through Twitter and Facebook, he plans to push heat maps out and other crime information so people are cognizant of what is taking place around them.

Homelessness has been a growing concern in Douglas County and as a stakeholder of the Homeless Initiative, Weekly is looking to take a proactive approach. 

According to Weekly, in order for the county to enforce a camping ban, there needs to be a place for these individuals and their property to go. Weekly said that he is not advocating for a homeless shelter in Douglas County. 

“We don’t want Douglas County to turn into Denver,” said Weekly. “The majority of our citizens don’t want a homeless encampment where their kids have to go around the encampment to catch their bus for school.” 

The Homeless Engagement, Assistance and Resource Teams - navigators who work in partnership with law enforcement to respond to community calls regarding the homeless - have found that many people they come into contact with decline assistance and many of them have drug, alcohol or mental health issues. 

“We can’t arrest our way out of this problem, nor do we want to, but we’re going to enforce the law where necessary and hold people accountable who do break the law,” said Weekly. 

School shootings and mental health 

Weekly also takes the threat of school shootings very personal. 

“Not only with schools, but just the community in general,” said Weekly. “I don’t want to lose one single kid.” 

According to Weekly, the schools need to be hardened and the sheriffs department needs to be aggressive in terms of looking into information that comes in and following up on it immediately until it is exhausted. 

To increase the safety of kids in school, Weekly wants a school resource officer in every school, including elementary schools.

Weekly was the tactical commander of the SWAT team that responded to the Arapahoe High School shooting in 2013. He said there was an inability to communicate with other first responders, which is why he wants to have a mass training exercise with the police department and fire department within the first year of his tenure.

“We also need to ensure that our deputies are trained in active shooter response, and quite frankly, it’s called active killer response,” said Weekly. “If you’re the only deputy sheriff and you’re there and your cover is a little ways out, these deputies know they’re going in by themselves.” 

As Weekly is a staunch 2nd Amendment supporter, he does not believe the Red Flag Law needs to be expanded, however, he does see circumstances in which an extreme risk protection order could be valid. 

He said it is tough to decide if a case is one where they need to act on a risk protection order or not. 

“So as the sheriff, I will defend the 2nd Amendment rights of our citizens,” said Weekly. “I will not move forward on one of these unless there is an imminent threat to loss of life.”

Weekly said if an extreme risk protection order is executed, the law implies that the person should also be taken on a mental health hold at the same time and that this has not happened. 

When it comes to mental health, Weekly intends to increase the community response team by three within the first year. He said during his time in law enforcement, he has seen improvement in terms of recognizing mental illness and de-escalating situations. Moving forward, Weekly wants to make sure every deputy sheriff on the street is also crisis response trained. 

“We want to make sure that our deputies have the tools in their toolbox and the knowledge to de-escalate,” said Weekly. “I’m not telling you that de-escalation is always going to happen, so a lot of the time, the circumstances will dictate how that goes.”  

Looking forward

Ensuring that the community can feel they can trust the sheriff’s office and that the department is responsive to their concerns, Weekly would like to bring back neighborhood crime watch meetings. He wants the citizens to feel like they have a good relationship with the department and can have open communication.

“I want to improve the overall professionalism of the organization,” Weekly said. “It’s not broken, but I think we’ve got room for growth and I want to be an agency that every agency in Colorado is looking to.”

Douglas County, Sheriff Weekly

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