Denver police bad behavior: 96 disciplined in 2010 for drunkenness, theft and more

Categories: News, Politics

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Charley Garcia officially becomes Denver's newest Manager of Safety today -- the fourth person to hold the position in the last year. The first day on the job for Garcia, a former head of Denver's Public Defender office, follows news that Police Chief Gerald Whitman has handed over his recommendation that the officer involved in the 2009 beating of Michael DeHerrera should be axed from the force.

Former Manager of Safety Ron Perea's decision not to terminate Officer Devin Sparks for excessive force was undoubtedly a major factor in Perea's resignation last fall. But Sparks wasn't the only officer who faced scrutiny in 2010.

According to a report released yesterday by the Office of Independent Monitor, 96 acts of discipline ranging from written reprimand to termination were imposed on DPD officers last year. The bad behavior ranges from being drunk on duty to stealing weapons from civilians during traffic stops. The acts of punishment also included the firing of three cops by outgoing Safety Manager Al LaCabe for their behavior during the 2008 stomping of a sixteen-year-old, Juan Vasquez.

The overall discipline numbers are mostly on par with previous years, but the types of officer-involved incidents that didn't make it onto the radar of local media are interesting nonetheless.

The OIM report doesn't reveal the names of the officers, but here are the descriptions of the cases:

  • A detective resigned after having been arrested and convicted of shoplifting and after having been accused of providing false identification information to store security.
  • An officer resigned after having been convicted of misdemeanor menacing and after having been accused of being under the influence of alcohol while on duty.
  • An officer resigned after admitting to have stolen a Taser-type weapon from a citizen during a traffic stop.

There were twelve instances of officers receiving "suspension without pay" in 2010, down from seventeen the previous year. Here are some of cases where the officer was suspended for ten or more days:

  • An officer received a sixty-day suspension for driving under the influence of alcohol (off-duty), unlawful possession of a firearm while intoxicated, and attempting to improperly influence the arresting officer based on the officer's professional status.
  • An officer received a ninety-day suspension (with 45 days held in abeyance pending no further misconduct) for lying during the course of an investigation into a missed court appearance by the officer.
  • An officer received a 52-day suspension for initiating an out-of-policy vehicle pursuit, which resulted in three traffic collisions and injury to innocent persons, and for making a false statement to another agency at the conclusion of the pursuit.
  • An officer received a 45-day suspension (with termination held in abeyance) for making threatening statements against another officer.
  • An officer received a 42-day suspension for participating in an out-of-policy vehicle pursuit, which resulted in three traffic collisions and injury to innocent persons, and for failing to notify dispatch of the pursuit.
  • An officer received a ten-day suspension for covering other officers during a dangerous out-of-policy vehicle pursuit and for failing to notify dispatch of the pursuit.
  • An officer received a ten-day suspension for failing to call out mileage or notify dispatch regarding a contact with a suspected prostitute, which resulted in an allegation of attempted sexual assault.

The OIM report also covers discipline imposed on deputies within the Denver Sheriff Department, which oversees the county jail. The investigation into the July 2010 death of inmate Marvin Booker, who died after force was used on him by several Denver deputies, was completed in February and is awaiting review.

There were other misconduct investigations last year that resulting in deputies being fired or suspended. Here are the descriptions:

  • A deputy was terminated after being convicted of a misdemeanor involving off-duty harassment of the deputy's spouse and after making false statements relating to the incident to Internal Affairs.
  • A deputy was terminated after having engaged in the theft of services and property while off-duty and after having made false statements relating to the incidents to Internal Affairs.
  • A deputy resigned after having been accused of giving false testimony in a CSA hearing on behalf of another deputy who had been terminated by the department.
  • Two deputies resigned after having become involved in a physical altercation with each other while on duty and in uniform in a custodial facility.
  • A deputy resigned after having been alleged to have fraternized with an inmate.
  • A deputy resigned after having been alleged to have fraternized with an inmate's family and having smuggled contraband into a custodial facility.
  • A deputy resigned after having been charged criminally with felony child abuse.
  • A deputy was suspended for 45 days for submitting false requests for overtime and for insubordination toward supervisors.
  • A deputy was suspended for 45 days for using unnecessary force while searching an inmate (not resulting in injury) and for preparing an inaccurate report and making false statements to Internal Affairs.
  • A deputy was suspended for thirty days for slapping an inmate, writing an inaccurate report, and making false statements to Internal Affairs.
  • A deputy was suspended for fifteen days for use of unauthorized leave with prior discipline having been imposed for prior similar violations.

While this list is a showcase of the worst behavior among Denver law enforcement, it should also be noted that Denver Police employees received 773 commendations and awards for acts of bravery and competency in 2010. Meanwhile, the Sheriff Department handed out 149 commendations and awards to employees.

More from our News archive: "Marvin Booker video: DA's office on why it can't release footage of man who died in Denver jail."


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3 comments
Will
Will

It doesn't look like a department that has an issue policing itself nor does it look out of control as some would like them to believe. I have friends on the department who say the biggest issue has been the delays caused by having a change in leadership at the Manager's level, delays by the previous Manager and some cases being sent back for further review by the Manager's office when Perea stepped down. Of course the Union wants everyone to believe that somehow discipline hasn't been fair but look at the incidents listed - these folks need have corrections made and I'm glad to see it. I've always thought that we had a good police force - but haven't been happy with the noise coming out of the Union, particularly against the Chief who apparently has been taking care of business on our behalf!

Samuel Wells
Samuel Wells

There are more criminals in uniform than out in the city of Denver.

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