| News |

Denver cops allowed to drink on the job as part of "official duties"? Yep -- and it makes sense

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Earlier this week, we got a tip about a strange city policy from a citizen who'd worked as an election judge. As a temporary employee, the city gave the tipster its official drug and alcohol policy.

Most of it was standard -- no drinking or drugging on the job -- but the tipster noticed an odd exception: Police employees are allowed to drink "in accordance with police department procedures."

We called the Denver Elections Division, which furnished us with a copy of the policy (on view below). It's a 2002 memo from then-mayor Wellington Webb that spells out the city's policy "concerning the problem of drug and alcohol use in the workplace."

In the section labeled "Alcohol," the policy says employees are prohibited from consuming alcohol while performing city business, driving a city vehicle or while on city property. It then lists three exceptions:

There are three exceptions to this prohibition. (1) An employee is not on duty and attending an officially sanctioned private function, e.g., an invitation-only library reception. (2) An employee is not on duty and at a City location as a customer, e.g., playing golf on a City course. (3) An employee is a member of the Police Department and as a part of the employee's official duties, consumes alcohol in accordance with Police Department procedures.

Why would a police officer need to consume alcohol as part of his or her official duties? Denver Police Department spokeswoman Raquel Lopez provided us with the answer: "That would only be officers that are working undercover," she says. For example, she says, they may be conducting a sting that involves alcohol.

Unfortunately, election judges have to follow the rules.

View the city's policy below:

Denver Employees Drug Alcohol Policy

More from our News archive: "Ken Salazar offers to 'punch out' reporter Dave Philipps for wild horse question."

Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.