Denver says it's making changes to improve public safety agencies
Mayor Michael Hancock's administration says it's moving forward with — and in some cases has already implemented — recommendations issued by a citizen-led task force to improve public safety citywide.
Driving the news: On Wednesday, the city released a full response to 112 recommendations made by the Task Force to Reimagine Policing and Public Safety.
- The city claims at least 74% of the suggestions are being implemented.
- The recommendations were originally issued May 2021, but a city spokesperson told Axios Denver it took more than a year to provide a full response because the city conducted a "comprehensive review" involving multiple agencies, department heads and frontline personnel
- It's a stark contrast to when the Task Force launched following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, at the height of local demonstrations calling for accountability for police violence and defunding departments.
Reality check: Only three recommendations are listed as "implemented" by the city.
- These include: Making the Office of the Independent Monitor more autonomous; guaranteeing career services status for the independent monitor's non-managerial staff, and creating a sanctity of life statement in the Denver Use of Force policy.
By the numbers: The city's public safety department declined 16 of the 112 recommendations.
- The remaining 96 are divided into various stages, including "will implement," "in progress," "previously implemented," and "other" — a category public safety spokesperson Kelly Jacobs said was used in instances where neither implementation or decline was appropriate.
- The city created an online dashboard detailing its responses.
Between the lines: The city provided details for declining recommendations, while one — ending the controversial city-sanctioned homelessness sweeps — was "declined in part."
- The city claims some suggestions are legally prohibited, and some did not have a reason for being declined.
- Among the rejected ideas: Requiring officers to carry personal liability insurance; creating a civilian review commission with disciplinary power to replace the Civil Service Commission, which is responsible disciplining police officers; and requiring an annual inventory of all Denver police weapons and gears.
What they're saying: "I am encouraged that the city takes the recommendations seriously enough to develop a strategy for implementation," Robert Davis, the task force's co-leader, told Axios Denver.
- Public Safety Department executive director Armando Saldate called the city's response a "significant" step toward getting its departments to a place that best serves and works with the community at large, per a statement.
What's next: Task force policy analyst Melanie Kesner said the group is creating a formal response to the city for each of its recommendations, along with a grading system.
- She said this response should be available by the end of the year.
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