As we've documented in this space, the Denver Sheriff's Department has been at the center of numerous ugly incidents in recent years, many of them dealing with accusations of excessive force or alleged lawbreaking by personnel.
The accumulation of unpleasant headlines preceded Sheriff Gary Wilson's resignation in 2014 — and when interim Sheriff Elias Diggins was revealed to have previously been charged with trying to influence a public official (he ultimately pleaded guilty to making a false report a misdemeanor), it became clear he wouldn't be getting the top job permanently.
The search for a new sheriff proved to be long and laborious — but this morning, Denver mayor Michael Hancock finally introduced his new hire: Patrick Firman.
Hancock didn't promote from within. Firman is an outsider who has spent the lion's share of his career working for various sheriff's offices in Illinois before working for the past year or so as a private consultant.
Here's the list of experience from his LinkedIn page:
President / Lead Consultant
Patrick Firman, LLC
2014 — Present (1 year)
Private contractor and consultant working with local and regional Law Enforcement departments, focused on correctional facility operations and management. Mr. Firman is a Certified Auditor and Human Resource specialist with excellent credentials in analytics, procedures and best practices.
Deputy Chief of Corrections
McHenry County Sheriff's Office
2009 — 2014 (5 years)
Responsible for day-to-day supervisory management and and overall operations of the Adult Correctional Facility, a combination Direct Supervision / Podular Remote housing with a capacity of 651 inmates comprised of approximately 36% county inmates and 64% Federally contracted detainees.
Chief of Corrections
Lake County Sheriff's Office
1990 — 2009 (19 years)
Responsible for multi-million dollar budget and overall operations of the Adult Correctional Division, a Direct Supervision facility with a capacity of 772 inmates, 288 Community Based residents, and a staff of 230.
• Instrumental in obtaining national accreditation in August 2006 through the ACA.
• Instrumental in maintaining national accreditation through NCCHC.
• Extensive knowledge of labor negotiations and contractual bidding.
• Research and development of policy, procedure and training programs
• Extensive involvement in planning and design of new facility
• Project liason for two department-wide staffing studies.
Chief of Corrections – 2003 to 2006
Deputy Chief of Corrections – 2000 to 2003 / 2006 to 2009
Lieutenant – 1999 to 2000
Sergeant – 1996 to 1999
Corporal – 1994 to 1996
Correctional Officer – 1990 to 1994
Firman's corrections background was no doubt a big selling point given the number of controversial incidents that have taken place at the Denver detention facility— most famously the jailhouse death of Marvin Booker, whose family received a $6 million settlement from the City of Denver last year.
Critics will likely also be pleased to learn that earlier this year, Firman was on the bill for “LET MY PEOPLE GO: Detention — A Matter of Conscience," an event sponsored by an organization called Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants. Firman's topic: "Understanding Detention Through the Eyes of the Corrections Officer."
As for why Firman wound up becoming a consultant, the answer appears to be politics.
In October 2014, the Daily Herald reported that Firman would be named Undersheriff of Lake County if Jason Patt, who was running for the job, won the next month's election.
"Patrick is my choice for undersheriff because not only does he have excellent credentials and experience, but he also is a well-respected member of the law enforcement community with the right temperament for this position," Patt was quoted as saying. A news release also noted that Firman was a part-time criminal justice teacher at the College of Lake County and served as the vice president of the Illinois Correctional Association.
"I am honored at the opportunity to return to the Lake County Sheriff's Office and join Jason's team," Firman stated in the same release. "I believe that my background and experience complement what Jason brings to the job. I'm looking forward to again serving the citizens of Lake County along with Jason."
Only problem: Patt lost — and shortly thereafter, Firman went into business for himself.
He's back on the public payroll now, and he faces big challenges in Denver. Here's a 7News piece about his introduction.