Several police officers in uniform walk through a parking lot in front of a high school building, which looms in the background.

Money for community-based solutions to youth violence, behavioral health services, and decriminalization of pre-teen offenses.

Those three initiatives offer a view of how Colorado Democratic lawmakers would like to curb youth violence and behavioral health issues — by addressing problems early and continuing efforts to keep children out of the justice system.

“Prevention is key,” said state Rep. Mary Young, a Greeley Democrat and former school psychologist. “What we provide to communities really can result in reduced suicidal ideation, reduced youth violence.”

She said research proves the effectiveness of early intervention.

Lawmakers feel pressure to address public safety in an election year. Violent crime rates have increased, with high-profile shootings near schools and more young people dying by gun violence.

Lawmakers previously have addressed school safety and violence. After the 2018 Parkland shooting in Florida, Colorado lawmakers designated $35 million for physical safety upgrades to school buildings, and after the 2019 STEM School shooting in Douglas County, they convened a special committee that recommended policy changes to improve information sharing and support student mental health.

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