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Breaking Blue: Detentions and the Special Operations Response Team

Each pod of the well-maintained DCSO detention facility ensures inmates
have safety, health care and adequate housing.

After a riveting class on the Bomb Squad and Investigations Unit last month, I wondered how the Citizens Academy program could top that? They managed to impress with a visit to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) detention facility at the Robert A. Christensen Justice Center. Captain Myra Buys and Lieutenant Jen McMillian led the class and conducted a tour of the detention facility, affectionately known as “Club Doug,” but officially named Detentions.

Most prisons around the country have difficulty and widespread challenges in maintaining prisoner health and providing a safe environment. Taking a tour of the Douglas County facility was eye opening and a pleasant surprise – not the dark, smelly and dirty “jail” I was expecting. It was immaculate, well maintained and bright; almost resort-like. Inmates on “good behavior” even have access to theater-style seating near the booking station to watch movies on Netflix and other programming.

Opened in 1998, the detention facility houses 520 inmates in nine housing pods, including a state-of-the-art medical unit to ensure that inmates are provided the health care they need while serving their sentence.

In 2021, DCSO had 5,333 bookings but only incarcerated 415 inmates, with the average length of stay being roughly 20 days. The majority of those inmates housed in the DCSO facility were not even Douglas County residents; they either committed crimes in Douglas County or were transported for housing from other jurisdictions.

DCSO provides support to other neighboring counties like Arapahoe County and El Paso County that are running out of room at their own detention facilities. When inmates are released and transition back into the community, DCSO offers support by providing appropriate community services through The Homeless Engagement, Assistance and Resource Team (HEART), such as bus tickets for transportation.

With the influx of inmates, DCSO created the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) to provide the detention facility additional resources and support in handling situations such as day room clearings, barricaded inmates, protests and facility shakedowns. SORT also assists with riot control and transport of high-risk inmates, as well as roving throughout the detention facility as needed, being available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In 2023, DCSO will swear in a new sheriff (see related story page 2). With new personnel comes fresh perspective and priorities. Sheriff-elect Weekly will have a great foundation from which to build.

Join us again next month as our Breaking Blue series introduces us to Communications and the Special Teams K-9 Unit.

By ViVi Somphon, photo courtesy of DCSO



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