There's a New Head of Denver's Department of Public Safety

Chris Walker
Tony Riggs addresses a crowd of reporters at Monday's press conference. Stephanie O'Malley is on his left.
Stephanie O'Malley is out and Troy Riggs is in as executive director of Denver's Department of Public Safety, which oversees Denver's law enforcement agencies, fire department, and jails.

The switch in leadership was announced this morning, February 5, by Mayor Michael Hancock at a press conference held at Denver's police headquarters. The move marks a quick ascension for Riggs, who had joined the Department of Public Safety as deputy director under O'Malley three months ago. Riggs's background includes a stint as Indianapolis's director of public safety from 2012 to 2015, and he told reporters that he has been involved in law enforcement for more than thirty years, which included leadership roles in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Louisville, Kentucky.

As for O'Malley, she has been offered a soft landing in the mayor's office as she parachutes out of the Department of Public Safety, which has been been plagued with troubling investigations and expensive settlements during her four years as executive director. O'Malley, a longtime associate of Hancock's, will take up a new position, paid for by the mayor's office, as a “special assistant” to the mayor. She will be in charge of “strengthening the city's work with minority- and women-owned businesses and better connect Denver residents and communities to jobs, skills training and other economic opportunities.” O'Malley will now make $145,000 annually compared to the $168,861 she was making at the Department of Public Safety.

During the press conference, Hancock said that O'Malley's resignation is not related to ongoing internal investigations in the Department of Public Safety — one pertaining to record-keeping errors in 1,000 police reports and another examining DPD Chief Robert White and Deputy Chief Matt Murray's oversight of an internal-affairs investigation.

“No, Stephanie O'Malley is not being asked to move along,” the mayor assured reporters. Hancock thanked O'Malley, who was standing next to him at the press conference, for serving four years in what he characterized as “one of the hardest jobs in city government.”

As for the ongoing investigation of Chief White of the Denver Police Department, Mayor Hancock said that he, not Riggs, would handle any disciplinary actions.

Addressing reporters, Riggs said that he had not known that he would be promoted so quickly to executive director when he joined the Department of Public Safety under O'Malley at the end of last year.

He called the appointment an “honor” and praised Denver for its commitment to protecting all of its citizens, regardless of socioeconomic status, during this boom time in the city's economy.