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Larimer County Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board 5/24/2023

Meeting Summary


The meeting consisted of a walking tour of the new building where they are meeting followed by two presentations and a final discussion. The majority of the meeting was an information session where data was shared and discussed.


The first presentation was presented by the Larimer County District Attorney concerning cases brought to the DA office with a focus on the inequities between race and gender. The second was presentation was presented by Staci Shaffer concerning data on the Larimer County Jail, with the same focus. There was a brief discussion at the end among the remaining board members focused primarily on gaining recognition for Larimer county's accomplishments with equity, diversity, and inclusion.



Meeting Notes

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board Meeting

Documenter Name: Kevin Stearns

Agency: Poudre River Meeting Room, 1st Floor, 200 Peridot Avenue, Loveland

Date: May 24, 2023


Board Members Present

Fred Garcia

Karina Ledezma

Laura MacWaters


Note: Other members who present who are not noted.


Others

Gordon P. McLaughlin, District Attorney

Staci Shaffer, Lieutenant at Larimer County Sheriff's Office


Summary

The meeting consisted of a walking tour of the new building where they are meeting followed by two presentations and a final discussion. The majority of the meeting was an information session where data was shared and discussed.


The first presentation was presented by the Larimer County District Attorney concerning cases brought to the DA office with a focus on the inequities between race and gender. The second was presentation was presented by Staci Shaffer concerning data on the Larimer County Jail, with the same focus. There was a brief discussion at the end among the remaining board members focused primarily on gaining recognition for Larimer county's accomplishments with equity, diversity, and inclusion.


Goals and Outcomes

The agenda contained three areas of discussion:

  1. District Attorney Presentation

  2. Larimer County Sheriff's Office Jail Presentation

  3. Closing Discussion

District Attorney (DA) Presentation


The first presentation was given by District Attorney Gordon McLaghlin, which covered data about cases received by the DA Office with a focus on changes that have taken place since the pandemic.


He first presented Eighth Judicial District Attorney Data Dashboard showing a reduction in case files from 2017 to 2022. This data was collected with the help of 7 other judicial districts, including Denver and Arapaho. A important piece of the data was that Latinx were brought in at about 3 times the rate as whites, and blacks almost 5 times as much as whites. Disparities between different ethic groups, however was low according to the Eight Judicial District Attorney Disparities at Points of Prosecutorial Discretion report. Diversion and deferral programs are believed to be increasing equity.


How criminal histories are used by the DA is currently under discussion as they could be driving inequality. Some districts are already removing criminal history from their consideration.


Also, the DA doesn't want to always file a charge if a case if just going to be dismissed, such as when there is no proof beyond a reasonable doubt or due to a constitutional violation. The DA would like to increase tracking on why a case is dismissed.


Body cams are already required in Larimer county, and this is expanding through the whole state. This is in part a response to juries, who are starting to demand video evidence.


Mary, from DA office HR administration, presented handouts with data on demographics at the DA office (85% white, 3% Asian, 8.6% Latinx, only one as black). She noted that most upper positions were held by white staff. Age demographics have changed in the past 5 years, with 65% under 40 years old and 35% over 40. The office is majority female, and women still make less than their male counterparts. Effort is being made to increase diversity through different recruitment methods, such as using the Diversity Bar Contact list.


Larimer County Sheriff's Office Jail Presentation


Stacy Shaffer presented internal data on the Larimer County jail.


Carceral Population: 68.8% white (298), Latinx 23.6% (102), Black 7.2% (31), Unknown 0.2% (1)


Jail Employees: 80.7% white (381), 10.2% Latinx (48), 2.1% Black (10), 4.4% Unknown (10), AAPI 2.5% (12)


Again, all the upper positions are held by white individuals. Stacy says, “It's not by design”. Though there are no women at the command level, there are 3 male lieutenants and 3 female lieutenants, including Stacy, who commissioned the study.


She notes that there are more black and latinx inmates than employees at the jail, with the reverse true for whites, AAPI and those of unknown ethnicity. Making the same comparison to the general population is more difficult, but it infers an “expected over-representation” of black and latinx inmates.


There has been a lull in inmates since COVID, which slowed down the court system, which is just not getting caught up. The number of inmates has dropped from about 650 to the 432 when the data was presented (varying about 30 per day). After COVID, the question was, 展hy are we using jails the same way?. There has been an attempt to reduce the number of inmates. Without the new programs (mentioned previously) she believes the number of inmates would be closer to 1,000 today, and they are still looking for new alternatives. While the pre-trial population has stayed about the same, the sentenced population is dropping.


Attempts are being made to reduce recidivism, such as incentivizing drug treatment over incarceration. Larimer Country jail is one of the top jails for medically assisted treatment, which is soon to be required, but has been going on for the past 4 years. The jail has 100% screening, though not all drug use can be effectively screened.


Closing Discussion

The board discussed how to get more involvement from members who are not showing up. New members are coming in July and the board would like all members to show up in person rather than on Zoom.


The board would also like to see Larimer County recognized for its DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) work. They have reached out to CSU to join their Symposium for Inclusive Excellence as a sponsor. This is something the board would like to discuss with the full committee present. The 3 attending members all voted “aye” to join the CSU symposium.


Observer Follow Up Questions

  • What are the specifics of the diversion and deferral programs mentioned?

  • Are any actions being on the police to reduce the over-representation of certain groups brought to the DA?

  • What is the impact of changes like this at the county level on the state and federal prison population?


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