Victim notification made easy for Routt County

Computer program is spotlight of Sheriff’s Office showcase

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If you go

What: Routt County’s National Night Out

When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. today

Where: Sixth Street, between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street in downtown Steamboat Springs

— Tucked among the fire engines and the police cruisers parked along Sixth Street between Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street tonight, a computer will be the key display from the Routt County Sheriff’s Office.

With the Victim Information and Notification Everyday network, members of the public can be notified when specific inmates are released, transferred or escape from jail.

“The biggest benefit is it’s going to allow victims to be able to register against their offenders,” Sheriff’s Office records technician Mellisa Baumgartner said Thursday.

The victims would be notified any time the inmate is released from prison, including for weekends.

Undersheriff Dave Bustos said deputies will use tonight’s National Night Out event to showcase the system, which now is active in Routt County.

VINE tracks offenders in county jails across the country. For­ty-eight states now are using the system in all or some of their counties.

Bustos said the system is free for users and the county. The Sheriff’s Office has been working to implement the system for about three months, Baumgartner said, and National Night Out will mark its local debut. Users can search and sign up for notifications at www.vinelink.com.

Users don’t have to be victims, either. Baumgartner said it’s a way to check whether long-lost friends or family members are in jail and to know when they are released.

County showcase

The National Night Out program is an annual display for local law enforcement agencies, organized by the Sheriff’s Office. It will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. today in the space used by the weekend farmers market. Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue spokeswoman Deb Funston said fire engines and several firefighters will be at the event with a revamped model house.

The display, mounted on a trailer, is designed to teach children about fire and electrical safety, she said. Firefighters will show children how to roll out of bed in case of a fire and how to get to safety. Funston said several firefighters have renovated the old model, disused for about 10 years, and the department will take the house to the elementary schools in Steamboat Springs for Fire Safety Week in October.

Steamboat Springs Police Department officers also will be at the event, Police Chief JD Hays said, and Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott said troopers will have a retro Dodge Charger with a 1935 silver-and-black paint scheme to celebrate the patrol’s 75th anniversary. Representatives from the rural fire districts and police forces in the county also were invited, Bustos said.

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