Today, June 7, Denver Department of Safety Executive Director Troy Riggs announced that a finalist list of candidates to be the next chief of police is expected to reach Mayor Michael Hancock's desk no later than early July.
Denver Police Chief Robert White announced his retirement on April 24 after two contentious internal-affairs complaints, although Hancock declined to discipline him. Twenty-two people have applied for the job, Riggs said at a press conference today, but only fourteen have made it through the first level of review by the Department of Safety's Internal Review Committee. Those fourteen applicants are going through an independent review by the Police Executive Research Forum, a police research and policy organization based in Washington, D.C.
A committee made up of community members, with Riggs as ex-officio chair, will convene on June 13 to go over PERF-approved candidates; interviewees will be announced to the public once they've been selected. The Department of Safety declined to release names at this early stage.
"I'm not comfortable releasing [the names of the] fourteen [candidates] if they're not going to be interviewed. I don't think it's appropriate to put them under that scrutiny since they're not going to be considered," Riggs said.
Interviews are anticipated to begin the week of June 18, Riggs says. After all the interviews are finished, finalists will be sent to the mayor.
"The committee will make the decision on how many people will be interviewed," Riggs said.
The Department of Safety has looked inward — to current police officers or those retired from the police department — to fill the position rather than go on a national search. Riggs, who was "impressed with the level of expertise" in the department already, said the move was intentional.
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"I think the PERF representative was correct when she said the [former] Police Chief [Robert] White has done an excellent job of building up the next generation of leaders," he said, adding that officers felt it was important to have someone within their ranks lead the department. "I can tell you now, if we did a national search, we would not get any better candidates than we have now."
Riggs also squelched rumors that the mayor already had his preferred candidate lined up and that the search is a horse-and-pony show.
"I can tell you that in 28 years of public-safety work, mostly in the police field, hiring two police chiefs and fire chiefs and working for numerous mayors and city managers, this is the first position of this magnitude that I have worked with on behalf of the mayor...[where] the mayor hasn't given me a list of preferred candidates or a list of individuals he would like to see move forward," Riggs says.
In advance of next week's community committee meeting to select interviewees, the department will hold two public forums to solicit citizen input on qualities to look for in the next police chief. The first is scheduled tonight at 6 p.m. at the Hope Center, 3400 Elizabeth Street, and the final meeting will be held Saturday, June 9, at 9 a.m. at Windsor Gardens, 595 South Clinton Street, for a total of five public forums since May. Those who can't make it can still have their say by emailing OurNextChief@denvergov.org.