Changing Denver’s Police Culture

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Denver has a new acting manager of safety. Mary Malatesta replaces Ron Perea, who resigned amidst allegations that he wasn’t doing enough to discipline police officers who use excessive force. These charges have dogged the Denver Police Department for years. After two officer-involved shootings in 2003 and 2004, the city launched a Citizen Oversight Board and an independent monitor. Critics say those changes haven’t made much of a difference. We wanted to talk to Police Chief Gerry Whitman, but he declined our invitation and sent a statement, provided below.

We talk with two professors of criminal justice. Joseph Sandoval teaches at Metro State. He’s a former police officer from Arvada and helped establish Denver's Citizen Oversight Board. Mark Pogrebin has been with the University of Colorado Denver for 35 years. Several of his students have gone on to become police chiefs, including, Pogrebin says, Chief Whitman.

Denver Police Department Statement:

1. We are always reviewing policies and procedures and looking at best practices throughout the law enforcement profession to determine our use of force training. The Denver Police Department contacts over 500,000 members of the Denver community each year. We are and have been committed to working with the community and rely heavily on our residents to assist in solving crimes.
2. Ultimately, the Denver Manager of Safety has the final word when it comes to police discipline.

To read more about how the Denver Police Department operates visit the online manual.