Denver Police retirees back on the beat today, demanding a "fair" manager of safety
While mayor-elect Michael Hancock continues to collect resumes for the numerous appointments he must make, a group of retired police officers will be gathering today to ask Hancock to appoint a new safety manager -- the sixth person in that position in a year -- who will be more sympathetic to cops.
The manager of safety oversees the sheriff's department, fire department and police department; former police chief Jim Collier (from 1991-'92) will be reading a statement on behalf of 700 retired officers at the 10 a.m. gathering in the South High School parking lot, asking for Hancock to appoint someone who will be fair to the rank and file.
Al LaCabe, a former police officer and attorney, had served as manager of safety for seven years, and resigned last summer after he oversaw a major overhaul of the discipline process. He was replaced -- very briefly -- by Ron Perea, who simply suspended officers who were involved in the Michael DeHerrera beating. In the outrage that followed, Perea resigned and was replaced on an interim basis by Mary Malesta, who fired two officers.
And then Charles Garcia, the former public defender who was appointed manager of safety in March by Mayor Bill Vidal, wasted no time taking action on other outstanding cases, firing six officers for lying, among other offenses, including two officers in the reopened DeHerrera case.
Update: Here's the announcement of that event:
Retired Denver Police Officers and Citizens Call for Accountability from Manager of Safety and New Mayor
More than 700 retired Denver police officers, their spouses, and widows of fallen police officers, and citizens are in support of a public statement expressing dissatisfaction with how political decisions are made in the Denver mayor's office that affect the safety and judgment of Denver's Police Department operations.
Retired Denver Police Chief Jim Collier, who served from 1991-1992, will read a prepared statement on behalf of the group at a gathering Tuesday, July 5th.
Media are welcome and encouraged to attend
In short, the group is calling for the new mayor to consider the following guidelines:
1. If the Mayor decides to continue to keep the Manager of Safety position, then the manager must be held accountable to act in a fair and impartial manner, as well as demonstrate an understanding of police procedures and the risks police officers face every day as they fulfill their duties
2. The Manager of Safety must use reasonable, short, decision-making timelines to decide disciplinary action
3. The Mayor must encourage the Chief of Police to manage the department to the best of his or her abilities and experience and to maximize the administration of justice on the streets
4. Ensure that the Police Department is in the "results business" and not in the "appearance business"
5. The City of Denver needs a strong and responsible Chief of Police, who is also held accountable
6. Denver police officers should have their opinions respected without fear of reprisal or discipline
7. Put more police supervisors on the street during incidents. Chances are that recent incidents caught on camera probably would not have escalated if supervisors were on the scene
8. The Mayor should take a firm position and halt the practice of the city paying for "nuisance suits" against police officers which only adds another layer of doubt and implication on the police officers even though officers have been cleared of any procedural wrongs.
Chief Collier said the group is in agreement that, "We fully support the rank and file, the men and women on the street who protect our citizens, but when it is merited we reaffirm the need for fair discipline and administration by impartial sources. However, the Manager of Safety can no longer undermine the Police Department's authority and ability to fulfill its charter to serve and protect the citizens of Denver."
Collier said, "As citizens, and former police officers, we support law and order and we need assertive police officers who are not afraid to be curious, to look at what's going on around them, and to fulfill their duties without feeling like their every action could be grounds for discipline."
Collier added that, "When law and order move out, you're not going to like what moves in."