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Sonya Gillespie: Does Denver captain's arrest show downside to higher standards?

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More photos below.
Last week, we noted that seven Denver police officers have gotten in trouble in recent months -- some on criminal charges such as assault, others for internal matters like sex on the job and explicit photos stored on department devices.

Now comes word that Denver Sheriff's Department Captain Sonya Gillespie has been arrested and is due in court this morning on a domestic violence charge. But is her offense on par with the others? And is it fair to publicize an apparently minor matter simply because of her job? Or does it come with the territory -- and with a public-service position that calls for employees to be held to a higher standard?

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A photo from Sonya Gillespie's Facebook page.
Gillespie has two LinkedIn profiles. The first was created when she was a sergeant with the department's civil liability office, while the second IDs her as a captain working in the downtown division.

Both note that she joined the department in 1992 and has been serving for 22 years.

In addition, we found Gillespie mentioned in a 2012 report about discipline and critical incidents produced by the Office of the Independent Monitor, which is tasked with overseeing the Denver police and sheriff's departments. But while many references in the document pertain to negative allegations, the one about Gillespie is positive. The report reveals that "Captains Paul Oliva and Sonya Gillespie were commended by the Director of Corrections for going above and beyond the call of duty when assisting with the notifications to the family of a deceased Deputy Sheriff. The deputies were commended for their professionalism and compassion in dealing with this tragic situation."

She's presumably less excited by her most recent appearance in the news.

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Sonya Gillespie's home, as seen in a Fox31 image.
Fox31 reports that Gillespie was arrested yesterday at her Green Valley Ranch home on domestic violence-related charges.

The Denver Police Department confirmed the arrest for the station but provided no details. However, a source tells Fox31 that Gillespie allegedly threw a cell phone at her fiance, described as an Aparaphoe County sheriff's deputy. He wasn't injured in the incident, the source adds -- and a neighbor interviewed by the outlet sings Gillespie's praises as a nice person and great mom always willing to help others.

If there's nothing more to the incident than a cell phone thrown in anger, most media outlets wouldn't have deemed it as newsworthy had it involved an average person. Lakewood Police Department spokesman Steve Davis made a similar point in April, after DPD Detective Michael Ryan received a summons for allegedly soliciting a prostitute.

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Denver Police Department Detective Michael Ryan.
"Let's pick any profession -- a plumber of a newspaper reporter," Davis told us. "Let's say they get a summons one night for patronizing a prostitute. That person probably can go to court and pay a fine, and his family, his friends and certainly his employer will most likely never know anything about it -- they'll never know he was charged with patronizing a prostitute after that person pays a fine. But Michael Ryan waits two days to get his summons, and during that two days, his picture is put all over town, and his family, his friends and his employer are now very well aware that he's been charged with patronizing a prostitute. And his assignment, his job, is in jeopardy.

"Don't get me wrong," Davis went on. "I'm not defending him. There's no room for people who do things like that in our profession. But to call that preferential treatment.... Well, I certainly would never want that kind of preferential treatment. Give me the summons and I'll go home. So the assertion that this was preferential treatment may need a second thought."

Nonetheless, Denver Police Chief Robert White recently said in an interview about the rash of DPD officers accused of improper behavior that "officers are and should be held to a higher standard." If so, Gillespie shouldn't be surprised that she's in the public eye even if all she did was toss a cell phone in anger.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Follow That Story archive circa June 10: "See seven Denver cops to get in trouble in 2014, including just-busted Daniel Diaz de Leon."


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27 comments
Jade Garcia
Jade Garcia

I can’t believe this is getting so such coverage. When we have several crooked cops in Weld County getting away with murder, cover ups, misconduct and misreporting evidence. Where’s the justice why isn’t there more coverage on these serious offences!!! If you have had a love one that has been killed or injured by the Greeley Police Department under any circumstances please reply to this email address stoptheshootingsgpd@gmail.com because my brother was shot not 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 but 9 times and killed by the Greeley Police Department on May 21st. Which to any normal person seems really excessive for a non violent crime. Greeley Police department is known for using the phrase “brandished” not only for my brother but for other incidents as well. For those who don’t know the definition, it is to display or wave a weapon, and “brandishing” a weapon should not justify shooting a man nine times, by multiple officers, for a non violent crime; a misdemeanor offense. And it is my understanding that this a frequent occurrence and has been going on for way too long and we are trying to take this to a higher power, your response and support is desperately needed. Raymond was very compassionate, trustworthy and an all around an amazing man. We have all made mistakes… and if you missed it, that whole back page, prostitution thing is not true. Greeley Police Department needed a way to justify what they were doing and did. They should be ashamed of themselves first for not following any kind of procedure, especially in an “undercover” operation where they should be prepared for ANYTHING, not a “shoot first and ask questions later” situation. But killing a man in cold blood and for them to use his mistakes against him. His only warrant was for failure to appear and was not found guilty on any other charges. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Or do we shoot and kill then try to find any reason to make them look bad? Unless the GPD are saying they knew who they were shooting and killing before it actually took place just to make it seem justice has been served? That isn’t justice. Also, how ethical is it for the Greeley Police Department to investigate their OWN crimes? We are planning a protest on June 21st , please email stoptheshootingsgpd@gmail.com for more info if you would like to show your support and attend.

Bill Falk
Bill Falk

No I think we need to hold them to a higher standard too many of them break the laws they are supposed to be enforcing

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Further proof that Cops are Violent Scum



Dustin Nelson
Dustin Nelson

They are the ones who demand we put them on on a pedestal. Be careful you may just get what you ask for. Oh a shooting elk and dogs pointing rifles at 10 yr olds during an illegal mass stop. Yeah people are getting real tired of your crap.

Bryan Moberg
Bryan Moberg

are you high? we don't hold them to a high enough standard

Mark Bromley
Mark Bromley

Higher Standards are used as a means to target and terminate good people from their jobs. In the Homeland Security ran TSA in Utah. That is what they used on me. A Higher Standard, higher than any other employee in the TSA even higher than Earl Morris. I was just a low level employee, nothing great. But they used holding me to a higher standard as a means to wrongfully terminate me and harm my family. In my termination though they used a code word. "Argyle Socks," it was used to terminate me for being married to a foreigner and a mixed colored marriage. Then a list of lies they made up and absurd things you would think a person doesn't get fired for. So I would say I was held to Impossible Higher Standards. Higher Standards are used to harm, hurt, and destroy families of good people for silly reasons. It's a game of politics. After good people are wrongfully terminated for trivial matters. The lives of their families are put at great risk, they become easily prayed on by the criminal element, and the job options become terrible. Some of those Criminals will still be working in your government as police. Yes there are criminal cops the real bad seeds. Those will lie to all those people that they live around. Like my Neighbor claiming I was in Jail for this and that. Apparently out of Utah my former DHS employer had people spreading false lies. Yet also you get stalked by local police and harassed too. I'm currently be stalked and harassed by Northglenn police. Pull the files, you'll see for silly and weird things the police have made contact with my family over 10 times in the past year, and before that I was stopped monthly on the road. So even if you fire a cop over Higher Standards the politics and Politically driven criminals in a Law Enforcement organization will continue hostile attacks. This isn't a matter of Higher Standards, it's just an excuse by a political group to destroy the lives of good people because someone else wants that job and paycheck and the power to force their political agenda.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

High standards?  You're kidding, right??

Anthony Anrig
Anthony Anrig

The problem isn't that we hold too high a standard for LEO, it's that they don't hold themselves to a higher standard. ACAB.

GooseSteppersSuck
GooseSteppersSuck

May I remind everyone that if YOU are arrested for domestic violence, the state strips you of your second amendment rights FOREVER and you'll be hard pressed finding a job anywhere in this economy as a criminal conviction means your application gets tossed in the garbage....This woman has no business owning a weapon or working in a position of trust. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander.

Corey Abels
Corey Abels

What kind of stupid ass question is this? People should be held to the highest standard in general, much less people put in positions of trust (cops, teachers, babysitters, etc.) Accountability has gone out the window in this country. So much so, that accountability and honesty are refreshing to hear.

Eric Matthews
Eric Matthews

With amount of police brutality in the United states you can go ahead and stfu about too high of standards.

Heather Doozer
Heather Doozer

you have got to be kidding me!! the standard is not nearly high enough. Cops already have an artificially elevated status in society that they do not deserve. If we are going to teach our children to respect cops shouldn't there be some safe guards in place to make sure these are people our children SHOULD be trusting? That's not what i see happening at all.

Gary White
Gary White

SB 197 requires a person subjected to a temporary or permanent protection order for alleged domestic violence to relinquish any firearm in or subject to his immediate possession or control within 24 hours. If the order is issued outside of the court, the person may be given 48 hours. In special cases, the person can receive a maximum of 72 hours at the court’s discretion.

Bob Dobbs
Bob Dobbs

Seriously? Denver cops get away with murder.

John Pinnick
John Pinnick

What? Should we hold them to a higher standard? Yes! I can't believe this was even a question? They work for the people and should be the cream of the crop. This is the biggest issue with law enforcement right now, most are curdled.

Ross Hostage
Ross Hostage

Domestic violence is not a "minor" matter. To address the broader point, we should all be upheld to the same standard, especially those who enforce laws. We dont need hypocrite cops who think they'll get away with something just because they think they're Judge Dredd.

Brandon Malone
Brandon Malone

Yep. Should we? Yep They are public employees in a position of power. Every tiny mistake made needs to be scrutinized.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

The issue is not high standards, but poorly-written, draconian laws.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

Some cops are great people.  I know these people.  It's too bad that there are so many bad ones.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Please don't let the oppressors control the language of the debate -- the TSA may describe the pretense(s) used to fire you as the enforcement of "higher standards [than ...]", but whoever lied to cover up racism and the TSA's administration itself, if it permits such conduct, are in no position to assert what are appropriate, let alone exemplary, standards of conduct for TSA's employees.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

When you say tiny mistake, are you talking about when they don't respond to 911 calls because they are "doing personal research" into oral sex from hookers?

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