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Outstanding police-brutality cases were a major discussion point in the 2011 mayoral race. During his run, Michael Hancock called for structural reform within the DPD.

"The people of Denver wanted to see some bold leadership steps within the Denver Police Department to begin to put it back on track," Hancock says today. "I don't believe there's a more sacred bond in public, municipal government than between the police department and the people, and that had clearly been jeopardized by some actions that had been taken and some leadership that had been missing. These are long-term, organizational, culture-changing moves we're attempting to make."

Among Hancock's moves after he took office in July 2011: appointing former Colorado Supreme Court justice Alex Martinez to the manager of safety position and hiring Robert White to be the city's new chief of police. And in the six-plus months that they've been on the job, both Martinez and White have made their own hires: Former judge Jess Vigil joined the Office of the Manager of Safety as the new manager of police discipline, and Michael Battista moved up in the DPD to become its conduct review commander. The DPD's Internal Affairs Bureau also has a new top officer: Mary Beth Klee, who has since added twelve investigators.

The change in investigation oversight is only one in a large catalogue that White has instituted since he moved to Denver from Louisville, Kentucky. In February, he began by cutting administrative spots within the department to move seventy officers to the streets, and he has been aggressive about both decentralizing the DPD and bringing civilians in: If a position does not require a gun and a badge, he says, it does not require an officer. The next series of changes within the DPD will be finalized by the end of the year, White says, adding that by then he hopes to end the internal stagnation that resulted from a years-long hiring freeze by offering officers the opportunity to compete for promotions.

Martinez and White have also worked to streamline oversight of the investigations, removing at least four layers of review from each investigation of officer misconduct. Translation: They should be 50 percent faster, White says. Before these changes, every investigation of a DPD officer rotated through a district commander, a division chief, a bureau chief and other officials before landing on the police chief's desk — and then moving on to the manager of safety. Under the revised structure, they now progress from Internal Affairs to Battista to White, then move on to Vigil and Martinez. The benefits of the system are twofold, White says: The department can maintain consistency across investigations of alleged police misconduct while proving competent to manage its own affairs — and hopefully, public perception will adapt to the positive changes and overcome the mistrust that White sees now.

"Officers have a great deal of discretion, and if that discretion is not used in the best interest of the community, it raises a lot of issues about the department, especially in the community," White says. "Many of those issues we will win over, and they'll see that this is a very good, professional police department. And it's getting better."

Under the previous system, review of completed investigations of officers averaged between sixty and ninety days. White and Martinez hope to soon whittle that down to between 30 and 45. "You [were] putting that on someone's desk who has another job," Martinez says. "I can tell you specific examples where it's like, 'Take the file, go home, we'll put someone else on your job. Get it done.' That is over."

Both White and Martinez say they've already seen noticeable improvements in the amount of time it takes to process investigations, and they have completed more than a dozen in the three months since Vigil and Battista came on board. Still, they're mired in a backlog of cases, what White calls a "bottleneck" of older investigations that were slowed by LaCabe's work on the discipline matrix, then reassigned from the previous system to the new one when the department changed over. Last year, 200 formal investigations moved across the manager of safety's desk. They are hopeful that that number will increase this year.

"I am extremely confident that we will do extraordinarily well on the vast majority of cases," Martinez says. "On the really difficult cases, that will be the real test — whether we also move those a lot faster. That's what people will notice, for sure."

**********

People certainly noticed that Landau's case was going nowhere — fast. The formal investigation into his beating, triggered by the city's settlement in April 2011, was part of that backlog. After meeting with Landau, who had since become involved with the Colorado Progressive Coalition (CPC), a sixteen-year-old social-justice nonprofit that focuses on racial and economic issues, the chief promised that the investigation would be complete this spring. "The civil judgment that was settled left the situation where something doesn't look right," Martinez says. "We settle a case for that much money and there's no discipline in it? It's hard to explain, and a first glance at that is that something's amiss."

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21 comments
Maji
Maji

To Jamier247 -   You assume they had weed in the trunk.  Alex's friend was only freaking because the search was escalating and he knew it could get bad.  Alex is now working with victims, and educating normal citizens on ways to avoid police conflicts.  He's a kind, smart, thoughtful young man, and your comments are based on ignorance and racism.  What an insult you are.

diamondgirlmya
diamondgirlmya

Police act like a gang and they are supposed to protect and serve ....not torture people. and that officer should no longer be working for the Department ever again!

Guest
Guest

It doesn't matter what was or wasn't in the trunk. He consented to a search of the cab, which he did not have to do, but asked for a warrant to search the trunk, they asked if the officer had a warrant. Rather than either, A) Search it anyway and contest in court whether US V Ross applied in this case, they chose to beat the living hell out of Landau. This is a clear case of police brutality. He has been cleared of all charges, so obviously the evidence that he 'went for the officer's gun' wasn't there. It is never okay for police officers to beat civilians, and since most of them are recorded while on duty, why weren't they able to provide any evidence of Landau's supposed behavior. Unfortunately, idiotic reasoning is used which essentially allows the police to use those recordings if they support the police's point of view, but civilians are not allowed to see said same tapes if they show evidence of an officer breaking the law. Double standard much?

Who Cares
Who Cares

Reform the worst criminal gang known as DPD? Not going to happen. Westword should take a day and photograph the eyes of DPD street thugs. They are totally gone. The number one criminal gang in Denver is DPD. Just look at them. Frothing at the wastoids with far gone eyes. Most look like they are drugged out.

guest
guest

They do get up early to beat the crowds

Lousligo39
Lousligo39

lots of liberal jews in denver i take it.bet none of them ever did a days worl except to rabble rouse the swatzters.

Jamier247
Jamier247

I'm right there with you. It's funny how the media who's bias in their coverage does report the fact that law abiding citizens don't drive around with a trunk full of drugs. And for those who think its no big deal apparently you have no idea of what's happening in our streets. Are there cops who shouldn't be on the streets, yes but there are more good cops doing a job of risking their lives for our protection that us everyday Joe citizens wouldnt do...so for all you people that say fuck the police blah blah blah are you going to patrol our streets, get the bad guys no matter what the cost (maybe your lives) go after the gang members, stop the robbers??? No your not.

Jamier247
Jamier247

Landau is made out to be a hero of some kind for citizens rights, he's a fucking drug dealer plan and simple. Your going to sit there and tell me two guys with a trunk full of weed is just some poor innocent guy....brother please! He was a low life who was doing illegal shit, did he deserve to get the shit kicked out of him....hummm I don't know cause we weren't there. But if he was going for an officers gun (which happens more often than you'd believe) do you all seriously believe that he and his buddy with a car full of weed intended to comply with officers and didnt struggle? We only have his word for it that he did nothing, so he recalled it. But let me reflect on cases like his where these guys say they did nothing

Mouthbomb
Mouthbomb

fuck denver police, savage fucking swine, burn them all alive!

Parker
Parker

Not saying beating him was right.....but now a sizable amount of money, which comes from our taxes, went to a law breaking, drug using individual.....Nice job! I'm sure he is using some of that 800K to buy more weed.....isn't it great to live in America where you can get ahead by being a degenerate

Mikelblk
Mikelblk

I'm glad to see that someone is actually policing the police. I to have had dealings with the DPD. Scary stuff!!

sarahadam889
sarahadam889

Foxes and henhouses, deck chairs and the Titanic - Chief White's efforts. Farts in a hurricane - Mayor Hancock's leadership.DISCOVER THE TRUTH BEHIND... READ THIS ARTICLE  ......=> FinancialsReports.blogspot.com

Bob Smith
Bob Smith

Foxes and henhouses, deck chairs and the Titanic - Chief White's efforts. Farts in a hurricane - Mayor Hancock's leadership.

Brian Frederick
Brian Frederick

Because that's going to work, "Guest." Listen, people can have their "fuck the police" rallies all they want - but fact of the matter is, they don't and won't work. It's not the complaints that weed out the bad apples, clearly, because what happens? They get their jobs back, get a job in another town or just leave and get paid for it. All I'm saying is that there's going to be negative connotations to all this dissent of authority. The "weeding out" needs to happen on a personal level. Personal responsibility is going to be the only thing that saves us as a society - and - unfortunately it's not something we teach well to our kids in this country. So, yes, you're right. We all need to Man The Fuck Up.

Guest
Guest

So, how does this weeding out take place? Oh yeah, by people making complaints about said bad apples. Now, go tell your buddy's in blue to MAN THE FUCK UP!

BAFrederick
BAFrederick

Right - it's not like bad behavior in any authoritarian position is anything new. The media is acting like this is something that's just come out of nowhere - rather than looking at the obvious - that it's just easier to keep track of and prosecute in present day. Hearing that DPD is the devil of all police systems is laughable every time I hear it. Chicago and Los Angeles, to name a few, have been dealing with things like this for years. In fact, the reason why they don't have as many complaints is because socially it's just become accepted or civilians have learned that when you get arrested, you just buckle down and take it because there's nothing that can be done at the point of steel to skin. In no way am I condoning this type of behavior, but the unfortunate effect of filing so many complaints is that the good police are now scared to do their job. In talking with a few of my acquaintances who are in the force (no, you can't have their names) they've told me things like "cars will stall when being called to a scene because they don't want to be the first ones there" or "they won't even bother with the issue because of fear of doing their job properly that would be misconstrued." It's too bad we're scaring some of the good cops out of doing the right (and safe) thing for fear of being fired or suspended. Like I said, the behavior is not condoned, but another side needs to be told as well. The bad apples eventually get thrown away, not sold in a store - they'll get weeded out eventually.

diamondgirlmya
diamondgirlmya

your dumb and dont know what you are talking about!

Jamier247
Jamier247

Just like that gang member who shot a cop in Greely, media reported what a nice kid he was per is mother ( sure he was doing something illegal),when the officer stopped him but his mother was interviewed and said he son was innocent not a gang member and than tried to sue the county for $$$$ . Come to find out he was a total low life who was involved in gangs, robbery and other criminal behavior. Funny than we find out this guy has a criminal history. You can doing something illegal, resist arrest, fight a cop, and sue the city and be called a victim.

Mouthbomb
Mouthbomb

^^^conservative, totalitarian prick

 
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