Nicholas Mitchell chosen by Michael Hancock as Denver's new independent monitor

Categories: News, Politics

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Nicholas Mitchell.
At long last, Denver has a new head watchdog. After more than six months of searching, Mayor Michael Hancock offered Nicholas Mitchell the independent monitor spot vacated by Richard Rosenthal in December. Provided the city council confirms the mayor's choice, Mitchell will be the second in city history to hold the position, through which he will monitor investigations of alleged misconduct within Denver's police and sheriff departments.

Before taking up work as a private attorney for Silver & DeBoskey, Mitchell worked in oversight at the Civilian Complaint Review Board in New York City, where he oversaw hundreds of investigations into police officer misconduct. At last week's public forum featuring Mitchell, Gary Maas and Kenneth Moore, the final three independent monitor candidates, the former distinguished himself from his peers by addressing the small audience in Spanish, in which he is fluent. (Other local speakers applauded his pronunciation.) His family includes both police officers and a federal agent.

Read his full bio:

Mitchell currently works as a federal and state commercial litigator at Silver & DeBoskey in Denver, focusing on complex commercial, real estate and employment matters. Before joining Silver & DeBoskey, Mitchell was a litigator at Allen & Overy, a large international law firm, where he litigated securities class-action lawsuits and U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigations. He also worked as an investigator for New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, managing a team of investigators responsible for investigating alleged police misconduct. Mitchell is a past co-chair of the ABA White Collar Crime Committee Newsletter and is fluent in Spanish. He received his Juris Doctorate from Fordham University School of Law, NY [in 2007] and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Evergreen State College, WA.

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Kelsey Whipple
Nicholas Mitchell, Kenneth Moore and Gary Maas at Escuela Tlatelolco.
At the forum, Mitchell spoke strongly in support of keeping the independent monitor position at a distance from the Manager of Safety's office and maintaing the goals established by the ordinance that created the position. These are sentiments that his predecessor, Rosenthal, also shared. "I think it's entirely critical that the monitor remain independent and report only to the mayor and the people," Mitchell said, adding that he supports a monitor who is "extraordinarily proactive. The next independent monitor needs doing early prevention, identifying problems before they hit the newspapers."

This is the second time that Hancock has extended an offer to the city's potential new independent monitor, but the first time he has been accepted. After Rosenthal announced he was leaving the position for a spot in Vancouver, a search committee convened in January, eventually whittling the first roster of applicants down to three finalists in April. But when Hancock offered the job to Julie Ruhlin, she refused it and decided to stay in her current home of Los Angeles County. Hancock did not redirect the offer to the other two finalists.

Afterward, the committee started at square one again in June by reopening the application process. Of the 72 responses, 32 met the requirements of the job, and the committee invited eleven to interview for it. Eight accepted, three spoke at the forum, and Mitchell won out in the final round of men with ties to the state. Pending city council's acceptance of the mayor's selection, Mitchell will step in for deputy monitor Gregg Crittenden, who has served as interim monitor during the delay.

More from our News archive: "Independent Monitor finalists talk immigration, independence, racial profiling."

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RobertChase topcommenter

Good -- both of the other two candidates were impossible choices, given that they have spent their careers in law enforcement.  It seems as though Nicholas Mitchell was pre-selected, but the stated qualifications for the position of Independent Monitor do not debar cops from applying.  I spoke briefly to Mitchell at the candidates' forum last week, and I am somewhat encouraged by his forthright support for independent civilian investigation of police misconduct -- his previous experience was working for the agency that does this in NYC.  Of course, moving from our present ineffectual system (which merely permits a few outsiders to review the conduct of investigations by the DPD's Internal Affairs Bureau) to one in which an Office of Citizen Complaints investigates civilians' complaints against police (a minority of all those lodged -- police file the most complaints, against each other) will require a change in the City Charter, and it remains to be seen how much Mitchell will support the essential electoral reform prerequisite to effective civilian oversight.  The Independent Monitor cannot stop the criminal behavior of bad cops or the conspiracy within the command structure of DPD which supports them, but he may help to curb the worst excesses of the IAB.

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