Clear Creek County Commission announces mental health pilot program in light of Christian Glass’ death

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A photo of Christian Glass rests among flowers during a vigil for the late 22-year-old, on Wednesday evening, Sept. 20, 2022, in Idaho Springs. Glass called 911 for help from his stranded vehicle in Silver Plume in June 2022. Clear Creek County deputies responded to his call, and in a moment captured by officers’ body cameras, one deputy shot and killed the 22-year old man.

Calling the killing of Christian Glass “reprehensible,” the Clear Creek County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday said Sheriff Rick Albers isn’t doing enough and vowed to make countywide reforms.

“The board does not believe that the sheriff has adequately accepted responsibility for his central role in this tragedy or the need to swiftly correct all of the gaps in training or protocols that existed at the time of Christian’s death,” said Commissioner Randy Wheelock in a written statement read aloud in a meeting. “The board embraces its responsibility to do all it can within its authority to accomplish reforms that enable the sheriff to better focus on his core mission of public safety and justice.”

Wheelock said that the county will direct its human services and emergency responders to form a mental health crisis co-responder program. A pilot for this program will launch this summer, and the board said it found grants to fund it.

He also said the county will train its 911 operators in how to effectively differentiate between mental health crises and public safety concerns. 

“We understand that no amount of money can bring Christian back or ease his family's pain. Christian’s killing should never have happened, and the Board is unanimously committed to doing its part to ensure that a reprehensible act like this is prevented from ever happening again,” Wheelock said.

Glass was killed almost exactly a year ago by a Clear Creek County deputy after he called 911 for help when he lodged his car on a pile of rocks near Silver Plume. Glass told the operator he was scared and that he didn’t want to leave his car. When officers arrived, he also declined to leave his front seat but offered to follow them to the police station if they would help him get his car off the rocks. After a confusing and chaotic 75 minutes, Glass was killed by deputies after being tased and shot with bean bags.

His family recently agreed to a $19 million settlement agreement in the case, and two former deputies face criminal charges in his death.

In a statement released at the time of the settlement, Albers apologized to the Glass family for what happened to Christian.

“The Clear Creek County Sheriff extends his deepest apologies,” the statement said. “The sheriff acknowledges that his officers failed to meet expectations in their response to Christian Glass when called for assistance. The events that transpired the night of June 10-11, 2022 … continue to be disturbing.”

Glass’s parents, Simon and Sally Glass, said on Tuesday they would like Albers to resign.

“By resigning, Sheriff Albers can begin to acknowledge and take responsibility for the failures

that occurred under his watch. Only then can we begin to rebuild the shattered trust between law enforcement and the community they are sworn to protect,” they said, in a statement.