Denver police: Chief White hopes to reduce "stagnation" through realignment
On Friday afternoon, Denver Police Chief Robert White notified officers of the next step in his ongoing work to restructure the department: Through July 27, interested officers can apply for transfer or promotion to detective, corporal and technician candidates. In an interview with Westword last week, White expressed hope that the opportunities will address stagnation within the department stemming from a years-long hiring freeze, "by giving officers the opportunity to compete for positions."
Interviews for the changing positions will stretch from August 6 to September 7, and those who are eligible can apply for any of a number of positions (listed below, along with their job descriptions), including computer crimes detective, HALO camera technician and SWAT corporal, among others. Applicants will be notified of the results in October, with the final change in realignment scheduled for completion in November.
The overhaul will also help to improve consistency within the department, where some corporals and technicians currently overlap on tasks. The selection process will ensure that each person who holds a certain type of office is held to the same requirements. The officers who currently hold the spots will also have to reapply for them -- and no one will lose points based on a lack of training.
"(White) and several of the commanders and admin folks evaluated every position and looked at what each agency and each unit did," DPD spokesman Sonny Jackson says of the realignment process. "He wanted to look at what each officer does and how the department would be most effective."
This most recent development falls in line with White's plan to make sure at least 70 percent of DPD officers are patrolling the streets. Since he took over for former chief Gerald Whitman six months ago, White has focused on decentralizing the department -- moving seventy officers from the gang unit and other branches to street forces -- and bringing in civilians. Under White's watch, if a task does not require a badge and a gun, it does not require a police officer.
"He flattened the department," says Jackson, who refers to this new announcement as the "next level: opening the door for everyone to apply" for the positions. In the same six months, White has also instituted changes to the department's disciplinary oversight structure, alongside new Manager of Safety Alex Martinez. In April, White announced the addition of Conduct Review Commander Michael Battista, who oversees five officers and works to cut down on the amount of time it takes to process reviews of officer misconduct. Both Martinez and White aim to cut the average review length in half.
Battista's announcement followed the appointment of Jess Vigil as the new Deputy Manager of Safety in charge of police discipline. In the same month, White also appointed Mary Beth Klee as the new head of the DPD's Internal Affairs Bureau. Although the news of realignment is White's latest change in the department, it will not be his last.
Moving forward, White says he is committed to measuring the success of his decisions -- and will continue to alter the department as improvements become necessary. "Policing is an evolving process," he says. "We come up with strategies and programs that we think are the best, and some of them are more effective than others. If we think something could be more effective than what we are doing, then we have a responsibility and an obligation to change it. I'm 100 percent committed to that."
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