DA honors two of law enforcement’s finest

The office of District Attorney Pete Weir announced this year’s winners.

​​​​​​​Bob Wooley
:bwooley@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 12/7/20

The First Judicial District Attorney’s Awards for Investigator of the Year and Patrol Officer of the Year.were given out at the District’s annual law enforcement luncheon. Detective Jeremiah …

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DA honors two of law enforcement’s finest

The office of District Attorney Pete Weir announced this year’s winners.

Posted

The First Judicial District Attorney’s Awards for Investigator of the Year and Patrol Officer of the Year.were given out at the District’s annual law enforcement luncheon.

Detective Jeremiah Brunner, Arvada Police Department,was awarded Investigator of the Year.

“Detective Brunner is known for his tireless commitment to young victims of human trafficking and is involved with a task force dedicated to stopping it,” said District Public Information Officer, Pam Russell.

In her remarks at the Dec. 2 luncheon, Deputy D.A. Katharine Decker, one of two prosecutors who nominated Brunner for the award, praised his ability to develop relationships of trust with the victims in the case he was nominated for, which was critical in moving forward with the prosecution, and said his commitment to young and particularly vulnerable victims of trafficking made her office’s job easier.

Brunner said the award was a complete honor and very humbling.

“It’s a nice surprise,” he said. “I didn’t see it coming. I also teach defensive tactics. Teaching and being a detective are the two things I love the most about doing this job.”

He was proud that Decker had described him as real — that he wasn’t just another cop, to the two survivors of the case he was nominated for.

“That meant a lot to me because that’s kind of what I’ve made my career on, just being myself and also being an officer and not having to separate the two,” he said. “I probably learned more about being a good detective because I was given experience in human trafficking cases. For about 6 and a half years now, I’ve had experience with them. I’m not officially assigned to the team, but I’ve been a go-to for them, when they happen.”

Brunner talked about the many facets of trafficking cases — domestic violence, drugs, assault and sometimes a runaway component.

“I’ve only dealt with cases involving sex-trafficking, but in the cases of juveniles especially, if it’s a runaway, they’re running from home and they’re often running from us,” he said. “So, starting from there, and then factoring in whatever they have to do to survive on the street, that someone’s forcing them to do, they’re not socialized to want my help, or their family’s help.”

The case Decker nominated him for lasted more than 18 months. Much of that time was spent forging a relationship of trust with the victims, convincing them not only that he wanted to help them, but that he could help. Brunner says building trust is something incredibly important, but it takes time. He said he learned it by working with victim’s advocates in trafficking and domestic violence cases.

“It’s an approach I take to all of my cases now, but I had to learn it through trafficking. I had to learn how important an advocate is to those survivors and how important it is for me to just be a person who cares and really work for the victim,” he said.“It’s changed my entire career and how I examine cases, how I talk to people on my cases and my goal for what I think is a successful case. Everything’s changed because of that.”

Patrol Officer Aden Jones, Golden Police Department,was the recipient of the Patrol Officer of the Year Award. Russell said while detectives work specific, assigned cases, patrol officers are tied into the community, driving the streets and working with the people who live in the neighborhoods.

She said Jones was doing exactly that, when he pulled over a driver he suspected might be committing domestic violence against his passenger, after observing suspicious behavior. The case against the driver was filed and ultimately, he was convicted on several serious charges.

Russell said it’s that dedication that impressed Deputy D.A. Chris Ponce. Speaking at the awards luncheon, Ponce, whose office prosecuted the case, said he’d never seen such diligence. He talked about the thoroughness of the officer’s notes and his testimony at trial, which he described as “awe inspiring.” Ponce said the jury was able to make their decision entirely based on Jones’ testimony due to his extraordinary preparedness. Officer Jones could not be reached for comment.

The First Judicial District is comprised of Jefferson and Gilpin counties and has thirteen law enforcement agencies, including eleven police departments, and two sheriffs’ offices.

The awards, designed to honor exemplary law enforcement officers and thank them for service to the community and dedication to the cause of justice, have been given out for the last six years.

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