Justice Alex Martinez hopes to be bring calm to troubled Manager of Safety job

Colorado State Supreme Court Justice Alex Martinez says he hopes to be a calming influence in the city's department of Public Safety as Manager of Safety, a job that's seen five other people fill it in the last fourteen months. "As beautiful as it is here today, it's also hot already," Martinez told the assembled crowd, talking about the ninety-degree weather, and the scrutiny he'll be under in the new job. "I know it's going to get hotter."

Martinez, sixty, will officially step down from the state supreme court on October 31 and become the latest manager of public safety, Mayor Michael Hancock announced.

As manager of public safety, Martinez will oversee the city's police and fire departments, but the police department and its history of brutality cases has caught the public's attention and ire.

Hancock addressed the public's lack of trust early in his remarks.

"The Manager of Safety is one of the most important positions in my cabinet, particularly at a time when we must restore the trust and confidence in the city's safety agencies," he said.

Martinez echoed those sentiments, saying "the people of this community deserve to have confidence in officers of the law and that all city employees will treat people with respect, recognizing that the people are our boss and we serve them. The people of this community rightly expect that force will be used only as necessary and always with appropriate restraint."

Several former managers of safety were thanked in Martinez's remarks, which specified that he wants to build on their legacy -- among them, Al LaCabe, Charles Garcia, Manuel Martinez, and interim manager Ashley Kilroy. Absent from Martinez's remarks was former Manager of Safety Ron Pera, who resigned in the midst of several police brutality cases in September 2010. Perea cleared the officers involved in those cases.

Hancock said Martinez will be involved in discussions during the search for a new city police chief. Martinez also declined to make any comments regarding his plans as chief, noting that he'll remain in his Supreme Court seat until the end of October.

A career-long public servant who spent 28 years in the judicial system, Martinez took about a week to make his decision before telling Hancock he was going to take the job.

The soft-spoken Martinez, a Denver native, grew up next to the former Elyria School, which then became Su Teatro before it moved to the Denver Civic Theater.

As for those predecessors, here's a mini-timeline of the four managers -- prior to the aforementioned Ashley Kilroy -- who've most recently occupied the position.

June 2010: Alvin LaCabe resigned from the Manager of Safety position, but not before firing three cops on his second-to-the-last day on the job. The reason had to do with the 2008 stomping of a sixteen-year-old, Juan Vasquez.

Read about it in our June 30, 2010 post "Charles Porter, cop involved in Juan Vasquez stomping, fired by outgoing manager of safety."

August 2010: Ron Perea succeeded LaCabe, but he only remained in the job for a little over a month. He handed in his resignation due to public outcry following his decision not to fire the police officers involved in the shocking Michael DeHerrera beating.

In a statement announcing Perea's departure, then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper said, "Ron came to Denver with all of the right credentials and experience to lead the Department of Safety. He feels that the events of the past few days have limited his ability to gain community confidence. Ron is a true professional who has spent his entire career unselfishly serving the public and his country. We wish him well as he decides his next steps."

Get more details in our August 23, 2010 post "Ron Perea resigns from Manager of Safety job as police-beating scandals escalate."

March 2011: Days after Perea stepped down, his deputy, Mary Malatesta, stood in for him at a Citizen Oversight Board forum -- and she wound up doing the same for several months afterward. But with John Hickenlooper's election as governor, the man who took Hick's place -- Bill Vidal -- chose Charles Garcia to take over for her.

Garcia didn't waste time. He quickly fired two cops involved in the Michael DeHerrera beating. Read about it in our March 25, 2011 post "Michael DeHerrera beating: Officers Devin Sparks & Randy Murr fired by Manager of Safety."

July 2011: During his few months in office, Garcia took on cases of alleged police brutality that had languished under his predecessors. He didn't fire everyone involved in controversial incidents. For instance, no one was sacked for actions in the death of inmate Marvin Booker. But he gave plenty of other folks their walking papers before taking his leave.

Get the details in our July 28, 2011 post "Charley Garcia leaves the Manager of Safety job -- after sacking nine officers."

More in our News archive: "Jay Estrada, Kenneth Briggle latest Denver cops sacked by Charles Garcia as police gripes mount"

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Nick Lucchesi
Contact: Nick Lucchesi