Problems with Denver Law Enforcement

Two reports come out Thursday regarding the Denver Police Department. These annual audits come from the Office of the Independent Monitor and the Citizen Oversight Board: two groups that look into how the DPD and Denver Sheriff’s Office handles itself.

In the report from the Citizen Oversight Board, there is some pretty strong language used to describe the alleged practices of the department and makes some serious recommendations for the police department.

The Citizen Oversight Board is made up of Denver residents that meets with the Office of the Independent Monitor, Denver Police Chief Robert White and other citizens to come up with the annual audit. Both groups look into how departments hire and train officers to citizen complaints and internal investigations, as well as other practices.

The Oversight Board touches on several issues, but the most surprising involve the following: police officers apparently making unlawful home entries, concern over the quality of Internal Affairs investigations and a possible “code of silence” between officers over misconduct.

In the report, one sections addresses Unlawful Entries into Residences.

“Over the past several years, the Office of the Independent Monitor has identified a number of cases in which Denver Police officers have apparently made entries into homes without probable cause, consent or exigent circumstances.”

Another point addresses Decreased Quality of DPD Internal Affairs Investigations.

“The Citizen Oversight Board is concerned that the quality of formal Internal Affairs investigations at DPD has decreased… and its requirements for stricter, more consistent discipline, especially in cases involving improper use of force and/or lying.”

Finally, another section is titled Code of Silence Regarding Officer Misconduct

“This is the most concerning in cases involving excessive use of force. In a recent civil service hearing, an officer fired by the Manager of Safety for failing to report a criminal assault on a juvenile who had just been arrested after a foot pursuit claimed that he was unable to report this wrongful use of force for fear of being labelled “a rat” by other officers and ostracized for reporting misconduct.”

As a solution to these concerns, the board recommends DPD improve its training on search-and-seizure laws, hire Internal Affairs Bureau investigators with more experience – consider using “retired investigators and/or detectives”- and they would like a “thorough review of DPD culture” regarding an alleged code of silence.

9NEWS talked with Police Chief Robert White after he received the report and asked what he plans on doing with this information.

“I think it is very important that we address the perception and/or reality as it relates to individuals questioning our ability to manage ourselves and to discipline ourselves. I certainly do believe that we can do that,” White said. “At the same time, I do believe we have to make some significant changes to recreate the confidence that this community needs to have in the police department and we are in the process of doing that. It is without a doubt one of my top priorities.”

In the report from the Office of the Independent Monitor, the majority of the information involves statistics, graphs and charts dealing with the number of complaints and investigations within and against the police department. In one set of figures, the Office of the Independent Monitor found complaints from citizens against the police department has dropped, in particular in District Six which consists of downtown.

“Almost all of the districts saw substantial declines in citizen complaints, with District Six seeing the largest proportional decline (-33 percent).”

The complete review from the Citizen Oversight Board and the Office of the Independent Monitor are posted online, you can view the reports and past reports by visiting:



Source:, “Report: Problems in Denver law enforcement,” March 15, 2012.