Denver sheriff not properly investigating serious inmate complaints, report says

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Graphics and more below.
As noted in its just-released semi-annual report (read the document below), Denver's Office of the Independent Monitor is "charged with working to ensure accountability, effectiveness and transparency in the Denver Police and Sheriff disciplinary processes." And when it comes to inmate grievances, monitor Nicholas Mitchell and his staff find the sheriff's department wanting. A damning investigation reveals that internal affairs inquiries weren't launched in at least 45 cases alleging serious misconduct -- just one of several eye-popping findings.

Rather than conducting interviews to highlight the report, monitor Mitchell prefers to let the document speak for itself -- and it's got plenty to say, particularly in the second chapter, which represents what it describes as "a detailed policy and practice examination of a kind that the OIM has not engaged in or reported before."

Specifically, OIM looked at inmate grievances filed against sheriff's department members over the two-and-a-half years from January 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013. Over that span, 54 "complaints of serious deputy misconduct" were filed -- less than 1 percent of the 5,979 total grievances put forward during that period, but still a substantial number. Of those 54 filings, however, only nine of them resulted in Internal Affairs Bureau cases -- meaning that the other 45, or approximately 94 percent, didn't get the IAB treatment.

Here's a graphic from the report breaking down the complaints by category. The total tops 45 because some complaints made more than one allegation.

Because the Denver Sheriff Department belatedly decided to launch internal affairs inquiries in to all 45 of these matters, plus two additional ones, the report doesn't get into specifics about the complaints -- but it does discuss them generally.

Seven inmates are said to have alleged being "inappropriately struck by officers with hands, elbows, knees or legs." Six maintain that "deputies slammed them into objects (e.g., walls or doors)," while five accuse law enforcers of inappropriately taking them to the ground. Five more gripe about being improperly tased or pepper sprayed, and two more inmates say they were choked.

Biased conduct grievances include six allegations of deputies using racial or ethnic slurs or insults and five about the inmates' sexual orientation. Additionally, eleven inmates claim to have been victims of sexual misconduct, encompassing five alleged instances of inappropriate touching, four sexual harassment assertions and two complaints about improper sexual comments.

Finally, five inmates say "deputies threatened them with violence or false disciplinary action," two complain about denial of medical care or medication and two more accuse personnel of failing to provide them with required disability accommodation.

The OIM doesn't suggest that any or all of these reports are valid -- but Mitchell and company do think they should have known about them.

Continue for more about inmate grievances and the Denver Sheriff Department, including the complete Office of the Independent Monitor report.

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Paul Malczewski
Paul Malczewski

There is no one holding law enforcement accountable for there actions in any capacity.

Peter Navarro
Peter Navarro

it's Denver, if they aren't beating someone or entering the wrong house and killing Pepsi drinking people, then they must be off shift.

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