COVID-19 SCAM ALERTS
Right now scammers are out in force trying to take advantage of people during the coronavirus pandemic. In this time of "social distancing" many elderly folks are pretty isolated and susceptible to these predators, so please share this information with your friends, neighbors and loved ones.
False advertisements for cures
Calls or texts offering overnight home testing kits for coronavirus
Calls from the scammers posing as the "World Health Organization" or charities asking for payment over the phone
Posing as a gov't official who wants to get you a coronavirus relief act check, but they need your personal or financial information
How to protect yourself:
Do not click on links in emails or texts that appear suspicious
Never share your personal or financial information over phone, email or text
Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown or suspicious numbers
Always check cdc.gov/coronavirus for the most current information.
"I am running for District Attorney because I care about this community. My family and I live here, my children go to school here, and I strive for the same things all parents do: safe neighborhoods and safe schools. That is why I've dedicated myself to fighting for justice for the people of this community - the 18th Judicial District. I've taken on some of the toughest cases in this jurisdiction with the hope of making it a safer place for everyone. Before that, I served in the Marine Corps and deployed overseas to fight for our country and protect those at home. I know what it takes to deter crime and achieve justice. Now I'm asking for your trust to serve you as the next District Attorney of the Eighteenth Judicial District." - John Kellner
For the fifth year in a row, Colorado has seen rising violent crime rates. Like the rest of the state, our communities have seen a troubling increase in violent crime, with sexual assault, aggravated assault, robbery and murder all on the rise. Unfortunately, this wave of violent crime isn't limited to one specific area. It is evident in the largest law enforcement agencies in our jurisdiction: The Aurora Police Department has seen violent crime rise 73% over the last five years. The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office reports a 39% increase over the same period, and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office reports a staggering 118% rise. These are crimes that leave a lasting, often unshakable, impact on the victims, their families and neighbors, and the community as a whole.
I am a firm believer in the concept of rehabilitation – that some offenders can change their ways and contribute to society in a positive way, but, the physical safety and well-being of innocent victims must be protected. Criminals who commit these most damaging and violent acts deserve swift punishment, including, when appropriate, lengthy prison sentences the legislature has authorized required for these brutal acts. Since 2006 I have served our country and then this community as a prosecutor, fighting for justice in every case. One of my primary goals in that work has been, and always will be, to help keep people safe in their communities.
That is why, if given the opportunity to be your next District Attorney, I will tirelessly pursue offenders who commit violent crimes. I will protect the public with proactive policies that emphasize community engagement to promote trust with law enforcement officers and deter criminals. I will work to reduce gun violence by closely partnering with local and federal task forces, such as the Regional Anti Violence Enforcement Network (RAVEN), to identify and prosecute criminals who illegally possess firearms or use them during a crime.
I will also aggressively prosecute the violent gangs that are currently thriving in the illegal marijuana trade and preying on our communities. Gang violence hurts everyone. Its impacts extend far into our communities. Gang members are recruiting children and spreading into the 18th Judicial District’s communities. Gang related drive-by shootings have claimed the lives of innocents, and retributory violence has extended to neighbors and family members. Gang members have committed aggravated robberies and killed witnesses. This violence is happening here, in our communities. As a prosecutor I have tackled gang violence in our community head on and will continue to do so as District Attorney.
*All statistics come from CBI's Crime Stats website.
Gun violence, like all other violent crime, is on the rise in the 18th Judicial District. The Aurora Police Department reported 1045 firearm related violent crimes in 2018. This number has risen steadily over the last four years from 372 violent crimes involving firearms in 2014. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office reported a 483% increase in firearm related violent crimes in that same timeframe. In my experience, much of this gun violence comes from illegally possessed firearms.
These are guns that are bought in the shadows by criminals without following any of our state’s background check requirements. It’s a growing business, made easier by pop-up social media-based websites where criminals buy and sell oftentimes stolen guns. It is a trend I am committed to fighting. I will build a partnership with metro area law enforcement, area prosecutors, and social media experts to identify how we can use technology to fight the criminals who exploit modern communication for criminal gain. I will prioritize prosecuting those who illegally possess or use firearms during the course of other crimes and ensure they are held accountable. My office will work closely with local and federal law enforcement agencies to proactively identify sources of illegal guns and get them off the streets. Each illegal gun taken off the street is potentially one less victim.
*All statistics come from CBI's Crime Stats website.
The 18th Judicial District is home to over 20 separate law enforcement agencies serving the unique needs of their respective communities across Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln counties. These law enforcement agencies work hard to build relationships and trust with the people they serve. The same is should be true of the District Attorney’s Office – we must build strong relationships with citizens and work to understand the different needs of the various communities within it to increase public confidence in our work and decisions. This means prosecutors attending local neighborhood meetings, religious groups, school assemblies, civic associations, and other public events with the goal of fostering relationships and learning about citizen concerns while promoting practices to keep each community safe. By involving the community in identifying public safety issues we can work together to solve them.
Most prosecutors get into this line of work because we want to serve our fellow citizens and protect those who are most vulnerable. We have a strong desire to see that justice is done. Sometimes that means taking a violent criminal off the street, other times that means fostering opportunities for rehabilitation. By engaging with our communities we not only promote our core values but also help accomplish our mission of justice. Witnesses are more likely to come forward and cooperate if they are confident in the police and the prosecution. We can also more clearly identify emerging crime trends when we are plugged into each neighborhood. As your next District Attorney, I will make it a priority to engage with residents, stakeholders, and local police to ensure our prosecution priorities are aligned with community concerns and addressing the needs that have the greatest impact on our families.
As a father I know how it feels to send kids to school and wonder if they’re going to be safe. Every parent knows that sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs when the calls and texts and e-mails come in from your school letting you know that the place your kids go to learn is on lockdown. Unfortunately, in the 18th Judicial District, we have far too much first-hand experience with this kind of tragedy. It shouldn’t be like this. I believe it doesn’t have to be.
I won’t tell you that violence in schools will disappear if I am elected as your District Attorney. Anyone making such a claim is not telling you the truth. But I can tell you that I will do everything in my power to promote school safety and prevent school violence. Everyone has a role in preventing school violence and I believe we must take an “all of the above” approach to school safety. We need better physical security, more School Resource Officers (SRO), access to mental health counseling, and anti-bullying campaigns. But these alone are not enough.
In addition to these initiatives, the District Attorney must focus on gun violence prevention and holding people accountable when they commit serious crimes. When a troubled or dangerous juvenile or young adult comes into the justice system, we need to ensure that they are treated responsibly in a way that helps rehabilitate them to succeed in the future, but also ensures we are not compromising the safety of other children in the process. Unfortunately, accountability in court always comes after a crime has been committed, but our response as prosecutors can and must be focused on preventing dangerous behaviors from escalating to the tragic acts of violence that our community has already seen and is still reeling from.
A recent study by the Secret Service reviewing mass shooters found that 93% of attackers had previously made threatening or concerning communications. That’s why open dialog with parents, teachers, and police is so important. Equally important are safe and anonymous reporting options for kids, such as Safe2Tell and Text-A-Tip, which have already made an impact in preventing suicides and school violence.
One of my key takeaways of the Secret Service report is the need for early intervention with students in crisis. Early intervention and school violence prevention is made possible by a well-defined and collaborative threat assessment process, including input from school personnel, law enforcement, mental health professionals, parents and other experts. This is so important – because when appropriate, we can use the justice system to help by providing professional monitoring, counseling, and rehabilitation. If we work together and properly use the tools at our disposal, we can achieve the early intervention necessary to prevent and deter school violence.
Opioids and Drug Dealers
The opioid epidemic is real. The death toll is real. There were 558 opioid overdose deaths in 2017 in Colorado alone. Our communities have been flooded with prescription drugs such as oxycodone and fentanyl that lead to addiction and abuse, wrecking lives and tearing apart families in the process. Often this addiction to pharmaceuticals leads to heroin use because heroin is cheaper and easier to obtain on the street. Eventually, many users are arrested by police and put into the justice system. This represents an opportunity for intervention and treatment that could save their lives. As a prosecutor, I helped start our Veterans Treatment Court, a way for victims of addiction who had served our country, and in many cases had turned to drugs to cope with the lasting impacts of their service, to access treatment resources and turn their lives around.
But drug dealers should not be handled the same way as addicts in the justice system. As District Attorney, I will aggressively prosecute the dealers who promote this poison and push more drugs on those who are addicted. I will ensure that we scrutinize deaths from drug overdose and work hard to locate the dealers who made the overdose a reality. With an increased focus on overdose victims we can identify and prosecute the dealers who are directly contributing to the rising death toll and the thousands of living victims who still suffer with addiction.
To deter other drug dealers I will seek enhanced sentences for the dealers whose conduct contributes to overdose deaths. This approach worked in the case of Almeda Sullivan, a former teacher’s aide who repeatedly pushed drugs on young adults who overdosed, and ultimately pled guilty to murder.
Reducing Repeat Offenders
I believe that people who commit serious crimes deserve serious consequences. I also believe that many offenders can be rehabilitated, especially when the root cause of their criminal behavior can be addressed in a way that protects the community. That is why I was proud to help start the Veterans Treatment Court in the 18th Judicial District. The Veterans Treatment Court was designed to support veterans charged with a crime who were struggling with mental health conditions, substance abuse, or brain trauma connected to their military service. Sometimes it’s a veteran who turned to substance abuse to cope with the memories of losing a friend in combat. Sometimes it’s a veteran whose family life fell apart from the stress of multiple deployments.
As a fellow veteran, I recognize that many military members struggle with trauma associated with their service, and we as a community want to help. Our approach with the Veterans Treatment Court was to closely partner with the Veterans Administration to connect veterans with medical and treatment services. We also joined with outside mental health and substance abuse treatment providers to ensure veterans had treatment options. Then we gathered community partners to create a network of veteran mentors who could support people who had entered the justice system one way or another. These mentors assisted defendants who were struggling, by doing everything from being an ear to listen, giving a ride to work, or helping them find a job.
We found the best results in our efforts came when we combined incentives to do well in addition to sanctions for violating the rules of the program. And the best way to find the right balance was to work as a team with input from the DA’s office, the Office of the Public Defender, mental health professionals, probation officers, and the Judge.
Ultimately, the results from this program have been excellent: In the six years since we started the Veterans Treatment Court we have seen a lower than 10% recidivism rate. That means less than 10% of Veterans Treatment Court graduates have gone on to commit a new offense. To put this in context, Colorado’s probation recidivism rate was 33% in 2017, and 53% in 2016.
In my experience, these types of programs can work and make the community safer by reducing repeat offenders. As District Attorney, I will
support programs like Veterans Treatment Court so we can stop the revolving door of the justice system.