30 Years Later…Project Safeguard
Project Safeguard: Thirty Years Later We’re Still Safeguarding Victims’ Rights
Most people who read this blog will know that thirty years ago, domestic violence was generally viewed as a “family problem” and was considered to be nobody else’s business – certainly not something for law enforcement or the courts to get involved in. What you may not know is the prominent role that Project Safeguard played in changing that attitude in Denver.
In the early 1980s, a group of Denver –based activists formed the Colorado Coalition for Justice for Abused Women. This new organization (known as the JAWS Coalition) focused its work on:
- The treatment of domestic violence as a crime;
- Accountability for perpetrators; and
- Providing victims with access to legal protection.
In 1984 the JAWS Coalition incorporated as Project Safeguard. One of the organization’s founders told me recently that they had some reluctance about naming the organization after a brand of soap (I’m not sure if Safeguard soap is still around) but loved having those two strong words — SAFE and GUARD — front and center in the organization’s name.
Project Safeguard’s early days focused on policy work. The organization played a significant role in instituting Denver’s mandatory arrest law (the first in Colorado) in 1984, the design and development of Denver’s Protective Order Court in 1992, and the passage of Colorado’s mandatory arrest law in 1994. This was all new territory and it was hard work. And that hard work received national attention in 1992 when Project Safeguard was recognized as one of five State of the Art Comprehensive Court Programs in the country by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
It was a natural progression for Project Safeguard to begin direct service as a complement to its policy work. Project Safeguard began providing specially-trained legal advocates to assist victims of domestic violence to increase their safety – particularly through civil protection orders.
Nearly thirty years later, Project Safeguard’s work has gone beyond the city limits of Denver. We have legal advocates working in Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield and Denver county courthouses. But the core of our work remains the same: safeguarding the rights of victims of domestic violence.