Denver police watchdog Richard Rosenthal loses bid for nonprofit presidency

Richard Rosenthal, Denver's first-ever Independent Monitor of the Denver Police Department, has been a busy man since his appointment by Mayor John Hickenlooper in 2005.

He commissioned the Police Assessment Resource Center to conduct a full-scale and retroactive review of the department's Use of Force policies, and has overseen investigations into the alarmingly frequent allegations of police misconduct.

And now he'll have even more time to concentrate on his Denver duties.

Last week, Rosenthal attended the annual meeting of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement in Seattle; he's served on the board of directors for the non-profit since 2001. This year, Rosenthal ran for president; he says he was recruited for the race because it had been a few years since NACOLE had had a contested election.

But Rosenthal lost to the hometown candidate, Kathryn Olsen, director of the Seattle Office of Professional Accountability. "It was actually a bit of a relief," he says. "Things are so busy here, and my term on the board was ending. It was a nice way to transition so that I can focus on what's going on here."

Still, Rosenthal plans to continue as an active member of NACOLE. "It's a great way to get to know the other programs, people and issues involved in oversight," he says. "The same issues make their way from city to city, so it's a good way to know what's going on nationally."

Rosenthal has been on the program at each of the last four annual meetings. This year he led panel discussions on monitoring criminal investigations and the imposition of discipline in criminal allegations against police officers. He also spoke on the logistics of creating a new oversight program, talking about how the first year is often the most difficult for a city.

The hardest part about his defeat was returning home to find out that his son had lost his bid for student council president. "We definitely commiserated in that experience," he says. "It was a rough week for the Rosenthals."

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Jonathan Easley
Contact: Jonathan Easley