LONGMONT — The St. Vrain Valley School Board heard Feb. 27 about efforts to curb youth crime within the district.
Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said he’s wanted to speak for a while to the school board about the issues surrounding juvenile crime.
“St. Vrain Valley is a district I’ve watched for a long time. You guys are doing a great job; it’s a great district. And the community should be appreciative what all of you do in your board service,” Garnett said. “We file approximately 2,000 adult felonies every year, which we prosecute to conclusion. We file approximately 10,000 adult misdemeanors, and we file 610 juvenile cases each year.”
Garnett said half of the juvenile cases come from minors residing within the St. Vrain Valley School District.
“When we file a juvenile case, we have a number of issues that are our top priority,” Garnett said. “The first one is public safety. Whenever there’s a case where we believe there is a risk from a juvenile to other members of the community, we make the top priority in dealing with that case protecting the public.”
Sometimes this involves some degree of police detention, Garnett said, but occasionally, if the matter is more serious, the D.A. may file adult charges against the suspect.
“I’m proud to say, within Boulder County, we file on young people as adults only two or three times a year — a very rare occurrence,” Garnett said. “And it takes a particularly violent case to do that.”
On most of the other cases, Garnett said the intention is to hold the young person accountable.
“We make sure to do whatever we can for the victim, whether that’s compensation in form of restitution or counseling,” Garnett said. “And then help the young person move forward with their life so that they can get through school and continue on and become a productive member of society.”
For a third of the cases, Boulder County uses a diversion program that involves a contract between the minor, the minor’s parents or guardians and the D.A.’s office. If the terms of the contract are met, then no criminal charges will appear on the minor’s record.
“We’re talking about expanding that program, and hopefully getting that up to about half of the young people we deal with,” Garnett said. “Because, obviously, when we interact with a young person, we’re dealing with somebody who is likely having difficulties in their family, often difficulties in school, difficulties in other areas of life. And if we can help them get things straightened out, we’re not only going to help the young person, we’re going to help society by keeping them out of a crime-like lifestyle.”
Garnett warned the district from adopting overly-strict consequences for student offenses.
“Sometimes a zero-tolerance policy gets enforced with a one-size-fits-all mentality that ends up with some irrational consequences,” Garnett said. “My view is: your school administrators are trained – they know how to deal with kids and sort out what is a serious incident from a silly incident.”
Contact Staff Writer Ben Wiebesiek at
303-659-2522, ext. 205, or email