No matter who becomes Denver's next mayor, it looks like the winning candidate will inherit a tidier, if more pissed-off police department -- and he or she will have interim mayor Bill Vidal to thank. Vidal might have had second thoughts about his decision not to run for mayor himself, but he hasn't missed a step in his avowed promise to clean up the messes in the DPD, with two more controversial cops terminated Monday afternoon.
While the mayoral candidates talk about what they'd do to change the police department -- ask for Chief Gerald Whitman's resignation, think about asking for Chief Whitman's resignation, getting rid of the Manager of Safety position, think about getting rid of the Manager of Safety position (and why didn't the three councilmembers running for mayor make a little more noise about this on Denver City Council?) -- Vidal took actual action, appointing Charley Garcia to be Manager of Safety last month. That makes the fourth person in the spot in a year, if you count Al LaCabe, who left last summer after seven years in John Hickenlooper's administration, during which time he carefully crafted much of the disciplinary process that is now allowing Vidal and Garcia to tackle DPD excessive-force issues.
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Monday, they dealt with Ricky Nixon and Kevin Devine, the officers captured on film fighting handcuffed females at the Denver Diner. Last month, they'd sacked the two cops involved in the Michael DeHerrera beating in LoDo. And before she left the post of Manager of Safety in March, Mary Maletesta had dismissed two more officers for lying about their involvement in a police chief.
Whoever moves into City Hall in July might want to think about asking Garcia to hang around for a while. Vidal, who turns sixty the day the new mayor takes over, will be on a well-deserved break. Because before he goes, he has one more case to address, and it might be the stickiest of all: the death of Marvin Booker in the Denver jail.
More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Gerald Whitman: If Denver Police chief goes, next mayor shouldn't ignore DPD candidates."