In Parker on April 19, prosecutors, law enforcement and politicians were all in agreement. That rare feat was accomplished because of what they were all there to do — honor the people who work every day to protect the rights of victims of crime.
As part of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office hosted a special awards ceremony to honor those who have gone above and beyond to help victims of crime in Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties.
Along with the honorees for the evening, council members and commissioners from Centennial, Parker and Douglas and Arapahoe counties were in attendance.
In his opening statements, District Attorney John Kellner said he is proud of the way treating victims has evolved over the years. When a victim of a crime is dealing with their worst day, Kellner said, dedicated professionals in the 18th Judicial District are there to see them through it.
“When I think about the importance of this week, and what it means to me as a prosecutor, I think it is a time to reflect on the people behind the numbers. It is a time to think about the communities that we serve as prosecutors and law enforcement. It makes me think about how far we have come.”
Early in his career as a prosecutor in the Marine Corps, Kellner said there was not a lot of thought about how victims were treated, saying at one time they were more of an “afterthought.” While that brings a sense of shame in thinking about it, Kellner said, the hard work of many has brought about “tremendous change.”
Kellner said there is more advocating at the state level to change laws, there are more community groups with the sole purpose of helping victims, and there are lots of changes in how communities go about policing and helping people experiencing the “worst days of their lives.”
Kellner said the theme in honoring Victims’ Rights Week this year is “Rights, Access, Equity for all Victims.”
In the 18th Judicial District over the last year, Kellner said, they recovered more than $43,000 in restitution for victims. In 2021, the 18th Judicial District sent out 11,000 communications to victims to let them know they were available to help them. In 2021, the Victims' Compensation Program collected more than $1 million, Kellner said.
As presenters entered the stage to give awards, many of the stories shared throughout the evening were heartbreaking but had the happiest ending possible — the guilty behind bars.
In presenting the Career Investigator Award, 18th Judicial District Chief Investigator Mike Dickson said the honoree, Scott Stephens, has gone above and beyond for victims, especially children. In reviving one case, Dickson said, Stephens conducted a new round of interviews, found more victims and was able to secure a conviction in a case involving children.
In announcing the winner for the Outstanding Law Enforcement Advocate Award, Parker Detective Shannon Brukbacher said she could not think of anyone more deserving than Amanda Hollander, who works with the Parker Police Department.
While her contributions in advocating for victims are endless, Brukbacher focused on Hollander’s work in a stalker case where a man was relentless in pursuing his female victim.
Brukbacher said Hollander worked to keep the victim updated and educated on her rights.
Brukbacher said even after the man was let out of prison, he returned to keep stalking his victim. However, because of all the prep work to prepare the victim on what to do in case he reappeared, the victim was ready, and the suspect has again been arrested.
Hollander, who has been with the department for four years, has worked to improve response and services to victims of crime, Brukbacher said.
“Amanda embodies everything you think a victim advocate should have,” Brukbacher said. “She is an excellent communicator, is 100% trustworthy and she understands the types of trauma and works tirelessly to build trust with victims and help them regain control of their lives.”
Others honored during the special banquet include:
• Outstanding Non-Profit – Arc of Aurora
• Outstanding Victim Service – Lorna Leader a forensic nurse program manager in Parker, Porter and Littleton Adventist Hospitals
• Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer – Kathy Lynn of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office
• Career District Attorney Support Staff – Arleen Sandberg
• Career Prosecutor – Danielle Jaramillo
• Career District Attorney Victim Specialist – Lynne Gallion of the Douglas County DA's office
• Recognition of Service Award – Pella, a retired K-9 that has helped in calming victims. She was escorted by handler, Amber Urban.