"Are you another fucking Mexican?" the Sergeant asks the recruit to the Denver Police Department. "Jesus fucking Christ, is there any white people in this class?"
Westword has obtained a police-training video from 1979 that shows a group of new recruits being berated with racial slurs and taunts like these. See the video for yourself after the jump.
Note: The video opens on a black screen and starts slowly. Please be patient.
Denver is at the cusp of a historical moment as the staging ground for the first time an African-American has received a major party's nomination for president at the most diverse Democratic National Convention ever.
Municipal leaders hope the event will be brand the Mile High City to the world as forward-thinking and tolerant. But an old police training video uncovered by Westword shows that it wasn’t always that way.
In the 1979 video, a group of new police recruits, many of them in their early 20s, stand in a circle while a commanding officer, identified as Sergeant Arthur Hutchinson calls them “niggers,” “beaners,” “greasers” and “homos.” Hutchinson accuses male recruit of being gay, demands any Jewish recruits identify themselves, and questions female recruits on their sexual promiscuity.
"Is the real reason you came on here is because you just wanted to have access to 1,400 guys to fuck?" he says to one young female. "You wouldn’t? Why not? All the other police women do. That’s the only goddamn thing these women think about is fucking all the time."
He orders several African-American recruits to sing "Camptown Races" while doing a tap dance. "All you fucking niggers tap dance," he says.
One of the recruits in the video, who is now a veteran DPD officer, tells Westword that the giggling in the video was mostly nervous laughter. "We didn't know what was going on," says the officer.
Hutchinson goes on to call another African American "a chimpanzee," "the missing link," and orders a white recruit to "hold his leash."
"You look like you just fell out of a goddamn cotton field," Hutchinson says to the African American recruit.
Hutchinson joined the DPD in 1964 and retired from the department as a Captain in 1991 after directing the gang unit. He served for one year as the Chief of the Eagle Police Department and, from 1996 to 2005, was the Chief of the Blackhawk Police Department. Former colleagues say he now lives outside Colorado. He could not be reached for comment.
The faces and names of the recruits in the video have been obscured, since many of them are still officers with the DPD. Some of them are parties in a class-action lawsuit by the National Latino Peace Officers Association alleging that patterns of discriminatory conduct and policies continue at the department.
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Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson referred all questions about the lawsuit to the City Attorney’s office. Jackson points out that the video is nearly thirty years old and that racist castigations are in no way part of current training practices. He said he would offer an official department statement after reviewing the video, but as of the time of this posting, no such statement has been received. -- Jared Jacang Maher
UPDATE: DPD spokesman called back with this comment: “That was 1979,” he says. “It was a different time. These tactics are no longer used. We train in a much different way now.”
But Genet & Martinez attorney Daniel Genet, who is representing several Latino officers at the DPD in the suit, says the type of training captured in the video still affects the department today.
“The reason it matters now is a lot of the recruits were indoctrinated and trained in this way,” he says. “It was an atmosphere that was ingrained by the DPD. Some of the people involve in that class are now supervisors. So if you’re a person with a problem or complaint these are the guys you go to.”