Press Release: Denver Community Agenda for Law Enforcement Oversight Changes

denverjusticeproject Press Release

To ensure accountability and transparency of law enforcement officers who, unlike any other city employee, have the legal right to kill members of our community, Denver’s civilian, independent police oversight agency, the Office of the Independent Monitor (OIM) and the Citizen Oversight Board (COB) that oversees it must have the power and the tools they need to provide effective independent oversight over the Denver Police Department (DPD) and Denver Sheriff Department (DSD).

Through its work, reports, and recommendations, the OIM has done a great deal to improve law enforcement transparency and accountability in Denver. The people of Denver strongly support the OIM, as evidenced by the fact that they passed a City Charter amendment called 2B by a wide margin at the ballot box in 2016. That amendment, proposed by the Denver Justice Project and other community groups, succeeded at protecting the OIM’s and COB’s continued existence. But in light of recent hindrances and setbacks that the OIM has experienced, more changes are needed to ensure that it can effectively do its job of ensuring accountability and integrity in our city’s law enforcement agencies.

To effectively fulfill its mission “to provide fair and objective oversight of the Denver Police and Sheriff Departments,” the OIM and the COB must be strengthened through changes in the ordinances that govern them, as well as further changes in the City Charter.

The Denver Justice Project and other community groups listed below are calling on the Denver City Council to make the following changes to city ordinances:
1) Require the Manager of Safety, the Chief of Police and the Sheriff to respond in a timely manner in writing to disciplinary and policy recommendations from the OIM/COB when they disagree with such recommendations, explaining their disagreement.
2) Ensure that the OIM has the right to be at the table from the first day when DPD/DSD policies are created or changed.
3) Clarify that the OIM is empowered to oversee investigations of all Safety Department
personnel, including the chief of Police and the Sheriff.
4) Add an explicit prohibition of any form of retaliation, threats, and/or intimidation of whistle blowers. public critics, and their loved ones by law enforcement.
5) Ensure that the OIM can report on any issue or problem at any time.
6) Support a budget amendment to provide the COB at least two full time staff.

The following measures may require changes to the Denver City Charter, and we call on City Council to refer such changes directly to the ballot.

7) Empower the OIM to retain independent legal counsel to avoid conflict of interest issues with using the Denver City Attorney’s office, which represents law enforcement officers.
8) Give OIM power and financial resources to conduct investigations independent of DPD/DSD when it deems such investigations necessary or appropriate.

These changes are supported by a coalition of Denver-based community organizations and individuals, including:

The Denver Justice Project

The Denver Ministerial Alliance

The CO Working Families Party

The Interfaith Alliance of CO

Indivisible Denver

NAACP Denver

NAACP CO-MT-WY State Conference

Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center

Together Colorado

Showing Up for Racial Justice – Denver