Updated 10.13.2021, detail added to priority list
In October 2020, an anonymous blog “leaked” messages from a Safer Boulder social platform, Slack, with the intention of silencing the group. It was easy for the blogger to enter the group, as almost anyone who expressed interest in the organization was admitted. While rules of decorum should have been more strictly enforced for such a public space, many of the leaked posts serve as a window into the fears and frustrations of our community, expressed hyperbolically, to assumed sympathetic ears. The individual views expressed can’t be extrapolated to represent Safer Boulder as an organization. Slack was not used to determine group priorities or actions.
Safer Boulder has not, nor will it ever, invest time in attacking the opposition. After the initial “leak,” the group opted to rise above the mudsling and continue to make progress including: reaching more than 8,800 signatures on a petition calling on city leaders to prioritize public safety, successfully lobbying in opposition to Senate Bill 21-062 unless significantly amended and supporting local business owners in speaking out about crime.
With an upcoming election, we must all stay focused on the issues. Boulder is on the precipice of a public safety crisis: crime has risen, our police department is critically understaffed, and people do not feel safe in the business districts, on the bike paths, or in our parks. Safer Boulder’s concern is not only for housed residents and visitors, but for the unhoused, who are disproportionately victimized. We have to face the reality of a raging addiction crisis that has grown beyond opioids to include methamphetamines, with dire consequences. All of this is compounded by inadequate mental health support across the state, if not the nation.
Safer Boulder, as an organization, supports:
The camping ban.
Providing the Boulder Police Department with the resources they need to not only perform their duties, but to achieve the reforms Chief Herold laid out in her 5-year plan. Additionally, the city needs creative solutions to lessen the burden on our police while continuing to maintain safety.
Non-police intervention teams, either as autonomous units or paired with police as appropriate, such as the Boulder Targeted Homelessness Engagement and Referral Effort (BTHERE) and the Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT).
Exploring raising the minimum wage the help keep Boulder residents housed.
Rental assistance and landlord mediation programs that Boulder residents housed.
Housing First as the current best practice to address homelessness, complete with wrap around services. However, we must acknowledge that the city cannot house everyone who comes to Boulder. With limited resources, we must make trade offs: adding Housing First units vs. low-income affordable housing vs. middle-income housing. There must continue to be a method for prioritizing individuals for housing in Boulder. We also must organize to increase housing cooperation at the county and state level.
Alternative sentencing facilities and applying pressure to complete the facility under construction in Boulder County.
Mental and behavioral health initiatives, such as those supported by Rep. Judy Amabile. We need more short- and long-term, in- and out-patient mental health treatment options that are available to everyone. We need more addiction treatment services, especially for people struggling with methamphetamine addiction.
Though these are the priorities of Safer Boulder, individual members may disagree. Some members support aspects of the Defund the Police movement. Other members do not agree with Housing First. Safer Boulder will not silence our members. Only through open discussion can we grow and evolve.
Brooke Harrison, PhD
Member of Safer Boulder