The December news that Richard Rosenthal, Denver's Independent Monitor, would be leaving the post for a similar job in British Columbia, was greeted with enthusiasm by some law-enforcement types, who saw him as anti-cop. And their delight wasn't tempered by his office's final scathing report, on view below. But just because Rosenthal's gone doesn't mean scrutiny of alleged police misconduct is over. The ACLU hopes feds will fill the vacuum.
How? By encouraging the Department of Justice to look into the Denver Police Department's activities.
"Last May, the ACLU of Colorado wrote to the Department of Justice and asked it to investigate Denver law enforcement," legal director Mark Silverstein writes via e-mail. "We continue to urge the DOJ to come to Denver."
The harsh conclusion offered in Rosenthal's report for the fourth quarter of 2011 may provide some incentive to federal types. It reads as follows:
The Monitor's Office has noted, during the past year, that there has been a high level of resistance to OIM recommendations intended to ensure thorough and complete investigations and appropriate documentation of those investigations. The problems identifi ed in the above-noted cases relate to basic investigative steps that should have been taken, but were not. Bias on the part of Internal Affairs Bureau investigators and supervisors has been documented in many cases over the past year. As such, the Internal Affair Bureau staffs' actions could reduce the likelihood, in certain cases, of officers' receiving discipline pursuant to the new Disciplinary Matrix.
It is the opinion of the Monitor that these cases evidence substantial problems in the way the Denver Police Department is currently policing itself. The Manager of Safety and the new Chief of Police must change the current culture in Internal Affairs to ensure unbiased, thorough and complete investigations and the appropriate documentation of such investigations.
Both Denver's police chief, Robert White, and Manager of Safety, Alex Martinez, are new to the job, so they have less reason than their predecessors to take such lines personally. Nonetheless, both criticized Rosenthal's analysis in the Denver Post.
Not Silverstein -- and he believes plenty of others feel as he does.
"The public has lost all confidence in the ability of Denver police to investigate themselves," he maintains. "If Denver police investigated burglaries and robberies the way they investigate allegations of police misconduct, Denver would be a sanctuary city for criminals."
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More from our News archive: "Police brutality: Independent monitor says chokeholding Denver cop deserved to be fired."