Brian Mason, the district attorney for the 17th Judicial District, stopped by the Reunion Coffee House for a “Coffee with the DA” program Jan. 25.
He drank tea instead.
Mason talked about the role of his office, how the criminal justice system works and some of the factors – legal and otherwise – that go into decisions to try cases in court.
‘We don’t have the resources to try 60,000 cases in court, nor do we have the juries,” Mason said. “A large part of the job is training the staff to do the right thing and things that we should do to resolve cases. What is the suspect’s criminal history? What are the wishes of the victim? Some have been involved in crime for years. Some were desperate to feed their families and made one mistake.”
The DA’s restorative justice program – mainly for lower levels of crime, such as property damage, possession of drugs -- is more than 40 years old.
“It’s not possible for all criminals,” he said. “But we want them to succeed. It’s an outstanding program. It has to be a priority for the district attorney. It is for me.”
A resident told Mason about a number of late-night/early morning vehicle window smashes near the coffee house. A number of the cars were not locked; some were, and the suspects smashed windows, reached inside and took what they could. The resident, who has a certain amount of security equipment, asked about confrontations in situations such as this. Mason said that wasn’t a good idea.
“There is one case, which has been publicly reported and I can’t go into a lot of details. But someone shot a person who was breaking into cars and killed them,” Mason said. “The belongings in your car aren’t as important as your life.”
Mason offered alternatives.
“Get as many details as you can – a license plate, a description of the car, a description of the folks who were there. Were they tall, heavy? Any other defining features,” he said.
Mason told a resident he works with the various police and sheriff’s departments in both Adams and Broomfield counties. But he does not oversee them.
“The chief is appointed by the city manager. We collaborate with them, but they don’t work for me,” he said. “When you call 9-1-1, the DA doesn’t respond. The police do. The job is to keep the community safe. That’s how I lead the office.”