Allison Sherry/CPR News

Mayor Michael Hancock appointed law enforcement veteran Troy Riggs as the new director of public safety Monday. The current director, Stephanie O'Malley, is stepping down from the position.

Riggs has been a deputy director of the department since 2017. He was a police chief and director of public safety in Indianapolis, Indiana, earlier in his career.

Hancock acknowledged the timing of Riggs' appointment as awkward given an ongoing independent investigation of conduct among the city's police Chief Robert White and his No. 2, Matt Murray. 

At issue is whether Deputy Police Chief Murray and White violated police rules in handling a response about an open records request into a sexual assault investigation. The report is at the Denver sheriff's office for review.

"Our process is long and laboriously and quite frankly we would have loved to have done it after this was done," Hancock said. "We hope that it concludes very soon."

Outgoing public safety director Stephanie O'Malley will stay in the Hancock administration as special assistant to the mayor to work on strengthening the city's cooperation with minority and women-owned businesses.

Riggs said he was happy to be in Colorado and knew he wanted to find a job here after his son took him camping and they climbed Long's Peak. Hancock called him a "data geek" and said he wants to focus on the Denver residents' quality of life and equality.

The Indianapolis Star published a report over the weekend about how the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department violated its own rules and failed to review 19 police shootings — some on Riggs' watch.

Riggs said he didn't agree with the way the newspaper reported the story. He said the people who were in charge of record keeping weren't contacted by the reporters.

Lisa Calderon, director of the Colorado Latino Forum, has been critical of Denver's public safety department in recent years and is working now on a ballot initiative to get the sheriff independently elected.

She said Monday she was "definitely not OK" with the secrecy around Riggs' appointment and there should have been more community input in the process.