Officer-involved shootings up in monitor's report on Denver law enforcers
Earlier today, we highlighted one section from the Office of the Independent Monitor's annual report -- a recommendation for discipline against an officer who bloodied a handcuffed Patricia Lucero that wasn't accepted by the Manager of Safety's Office. But there's plenty of other interesting information in the seventy-page document, including an increase in officer-involved shootings, with many of them involving individuals in the midst of a mental-health crisis. We've got details, graphics and the complete document below.
Complaints against cops tend to support the bad-apple theory. As this graphic demonstrates, a clear majority of officers received no complaints during 2013, while a much smaller number accounted for the lion's share. Note that .2 percent of force members received a seven or more complaints during the calendar year:
Another graphic depicting discipline against officers shows that only one was fired in 2013 -- but nine resigned during the course of an investigation.
Although the report doesn't include names, the document does touch on incidents that led to resignations. Some examples:
• An officer who'd responded to a 911 call involving a female victim of domestic violence took photos of her injuries while she was partially disrobed, gave the victim his phone number and made "inappropriate sexual comments about her physical appearance."
• An officer "allegedly had sexual encounters with a community member while on duty."
• An officer resigned after his girlfriend accused him of having inappropriate sexual material on his computer.
• An officer "was alleged to have used illegal controlled substances and conducted unlawful criminal history searches on behalf of the individuals selling those controlled substances."
• An officer seized controlled substances but didn't deliver them into evidence on three separate occasions, and subsequently tested positive for cocaine.
• Two officers resigned after DUI-related incidents.
Equally troubling is the number of officer-involved shootings -- and a possible pattern that seems to be emerging.
Continue for more about the Office of the Independent Monitor's annual report, including additional graphics and the complete document. As you can see in the following chart, the number of officer-involved shootings pertaining to the Denver Police Department and the Denver Sheriff's Department have been going up in recent years:
The report argues that all of the 2013 shootings except one fell within departmental standards. But the monitor's office expresses concern "about a possible pattern of deadly force encounters involving individuals who appeared to be in mental-health crisis. By our estimation, five of the nine DPD shootings and one of the two DSD shootings in 2013 involved individuals engaged in erratic behavior that suggested that mental illness may have played a role in their encounter with police."
The monitor's office hasn't made specific recommendations regarding the mental-health issue. Instead, staffers met with Denver Police Chief Robert White to encourage him to investigate and address the topic, and he pledged to do so.
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The report praises the DPD for addressing accidental police shootings and points out that the three such incidents in 2013 resulted in no injuries. The timing of this observation is ironic, considering that an accidental shooting in which a woman was wounded took place earlier this week.
• The monitor's office took exception to a Denver Sheriff's Department practice of essentially running a tab when it came to inmate processing fees. Such individuals are charged $30 a pop, and if they have that amount on them, they pay at the time. If they don't, however, the DSD would charge them for past processing during subsequent busts, as was the case with one frequent arrestee who had $200 confiscated to cover previous fees left unpaid. The tab policy has now been changed.
• The report notes that video-camera coverage in the old County Jail, built in 1956, is insufficient compared to the new Downtown Detention Center -- so the DSD has agreed to install 180 new cameras at the county facility.
• The number of complaints against the DSD has steadily declined in recent years, with the 2013 total down by nearly one-third from the 2009 total, as seen in this graphic.
No, the news isn't all bad. Here's the complete report:
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our News archive: "Photos: Patricia Lucero was bloodied by a Denver cop who wasn't disciplined."