Denver Sheriff Department Draft Reforms Release Tries to Stem Tide of Negative PR
As we've reported, the Denver Sheriff Department has received negative attention aplenty in recent months owing to numerous excessive-force complaints, a huge lawsuit payout and more; see a previous post outlining five of the incidents below.
Deputy Thomas Ford's punch out of an inmate is just one of several recent incidents reflecting poorly on the Denver Sheriff's Office. Video, photos and more below.
The City of Denver is eager to be seen as tackling the issues with the DSD. Example: The highly unusual release of reform recommendations while they're either still in draft form or currently incomplete.
The document released by the Department of Public Safety, shared here in its entirety, lists four separate groups assigned to consider ways to fix the DSD: the policy-and-procedure task force, the training task force, the staff-well-being task force and the discipline task force.
After Denver Sheriff Gary Wilson stepped down, news broke that his interim replacement, Elias Diggins, had a criminal record.
The assorted groups include past and present city officials, members of the faith community such as Reverend Del Phillips of the House Worship Center and assorted stakeholders, including representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Colorado Progressive Coalition and other organizations that have been critical of the sheriff's department in the past.
The task forces haven't been around for long, but their schedules suggest that they've been busy: Staff well-being has already met sixteen times, with both discipline and training getting together fifteen times, and policy and procedure gathering thirteen times.
Such sessions have resulted in forty proposed recommendations thus far. They're all listed in the aforementioned document, but here are some highlights:
Policy and procedures:
Reverend Del Phillips.
• Make changes to the taser policy.
• Makes changes to the inmate handbook.
• Send the Office of the Independent Monitor automated
• Include special training curriculum for leadership.
• Include remedial training in discipline, where appropriate.
• Allow deputies to access their own training records.
• Change shifts from 12 hours to 10 hours.
• Change employee break structure to first break 45 minutes and second break 15 minutes.
• Create a subcommittee to study the addition of a chaplaincy program to assist deputies with their wellbeing efforts.
What about the discipline task force? Its recommendations are arguably the most anticipated, but the draft says they're "not yet finalized -- work is ongoing."
That's true of the other recommendations, too. A Department of Public Safety release notes that "the draft recommendations will be refined before a final report is submitted to Safety Department Executive Director Stephanie Y. O'Malley, as well as a third-party oversight firm, by the end of September."
With that in mind, the release, which is peppered with complimentary statements from the likes of Colorado Peace Officer Standards and Training's Pete Dunbar, Metro State criminal justice prof Dr. Joe Sandoval and Al LaCabe, once Denver's Manager of Safety, appears to be an effort to let the public know Mayor Michael Hancock and other Denver officials aren't sitting on its hands regarding the DSD. Instead, they're doing something -- but they're not finished yet.
Here's the draft-recommendations document, followed by previous coverage.
Continue to see a list of five incidents that led to Denver Sheriff Gary Wilson's resignation, including photos and videos.