Indepedent monitor: Search for Richard Rosenthal's successor drags on

Categories: Crime, Politics

Thumbnail image for Richard Rosenthal head shot.JPG
The search is (still) on for Denver's second-ever independent monitor. After Richard Rosenthal accepted a similar position in British Columbia late last year, Mayor Michael Hancock's office convened a committee to search for his successor. By April, it had whittled the results down to three names: Eddie Aubrey, Julie Ruhlin and Stephen Connolly. But after Ruhlin rejected Hancock's offer, the committee is back at the drawing board until July.

After a number of community forums, Ruhlin elected to stay in her current position in Los Angeles County rather than become Denver's watchdog. She has not spoken publicly about her reasons for doing so. On May 11, Hancock issued a call for additional candidates rather than immediately choosing between Aubrey and Connolly, both of whom also work in California.

He asked the Independent Monitor Screening Committee to begin the process over again, with a renewed search through the 110-strong pool for additional applicants who could permanently fill the oversight position and a re-opened call for applications. Of that original 110, 47 met the job requirements, and the panel invited nine for interviews. Six accepted, and three made it to the public forum stage.

Today, that entire series of events begins again as the committee looks over applications throughout the week. The deadline to apply ended yesterday, and the rest of the process continues through early next month, when the second round of finalists will again speak at public panels. Originally scheduled to conclude in mid-April, the full search will last at least three months longer than expected.

The full schedule, courtesy of Hancock's office, is as follows:

Week of June 11 -- The Committee will review and evaluate applications.
Week of June 18 -- The Committee will contact applicants and set interviews.
Week of June 25 -- The Committee will conduct interviews of select applicants.
Week of July 2 -- The Committee will select final applicants for the position. Career Service Authority will perform due diligence of the applicants.
Week of July 9 -- Final candidates (three or less) will be forwarded to the Mayor and a public forum will be held (location and time to be announced at a later date).
Created by then-Mayor John Hickenlooper, the position, which currently pays $132,359 per year, brought Rosenthal to Denver from Portland in 2005. The primary function of the independent monitor is to analyze and review all investigations of officer misconduct within the Denver Police Department and Sheriff Department. After this process, the monitor submits a recommendation for action to the Manager of Safety, Alex Martinez, just as the Denver Police Department police chief, Robert White, does. In 2011, the Independent Monitor's Office oversaw 941 cases.

As the search continues, debate has arisen over whether to change the requirements of the position -- to focus on high-profile cases, to establish term limits, etc. This discussion remains ongoing as a committee analyzes the city ordinance that established the position.

"I think that no matter what happens, that office needs to be transparent and community-based," says Alex Landau, whose allegations of police misconduct have not ended in action from the Denver Police Department more than three years after the incident. "It should be this figure of authority and power that works with the community it's overseeing, and whoever holds it should be able to make decisions that actually change the system."

In the meantime, Gregg Crittenden, previously senior deputy monitor, serves as Denver's acting independent monitor.

More from our Politics archives: "Independent Monitor: Meet candidates Eddie Aubrey, Julie Ruhlin and Stephen Connolly."

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Robert Chase
Robert Chase

How you could have so completely misunderstood what I just wrote defies imagination!  We the People can either make the changes to our City Charter necessary to establish civilian control of our police department, or we can continue to suffer the depredations of thugs in uniform DPD now employs and protects.  Try reading before reacting!


It's quaint that you feel that the police or the mayor actually CARE if we, the citizens, are heard or feel marginalized or intimidated by the rogue cops. Where have you been? Status quo here is to keep the Denver cops happy at all costs, including our constitutional liberty or loss of life. The idea that the cops or politicians give two shits about civilian input (other than input to the budgets through traffic ticket revenue and taxation) is laughable at best, and hopelessly naive at worst.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The Mayor has zero interest in an independent "Independent Monitor"; no amount of beating the bushes for additional candidates can disguise his interest in a yes-man for the position.  We can thank Gov. Hack for duping the voters into approving a system of police oversight consisting of a so-called "Independent Monitor" (who serves at the Mayor's pleasure, has no investigative resources, and no authority regarding police discipline) and a so-called "Citizen Oversight Board (which consists of mayoral appointees and has little authority of any kind other than to hear complaints).  The salary of the Monitor, the budget of his office. and that of the Citizen Oversight Board could better be spent on the costs of establishing a new Office of Police Complaints (OPC) to investigate at least civilians' complaints against police officers independently. Transferring positions laterally from the IAB to an independent agency would not incur additional expense for the taxpayers, but it would go a long way towards establishing public trust in the process of investigating police misconduct in Denver.  My own experience over the course of the past eight months demonstrates to my satisfaction that there are many police officers acting outside the Law in Denver, and that there is no effort to stop them.  Denver needs to rid its police department of rogue officers, and its present administration lacks both the will and the means to do so.  Vesting authority to impose discipline in an agency independent of the DPD and independent of the machinations of the Mayor's office is essential to creating the trust which should exist between Denver and its police.  We need to change the City Charter again, this time to do away with Hack's window-dressing and sinecures, and establish effective, professional, independent, civilian oversight of police conduct.

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