Nov 23, 2022 - News

Two finalists named for Denver's police watchdog role

Illustration of a pair of blinking eyes with police badges for irises.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The group responsible for finding Denver's next independent monitor named two finalists — after a months-long search for viable candidates.

Driving the news: Lisabeth Castle, of Denver, and Mary Opler, of Sacramento, California, are in the running for the law enforcement watchdog role, according to a statement from the nine-member Citizen Oversight Board released recently.

Why it matters: The Office of the Independent Monitor is responsible for overseeing the city's law enforcement agencies, and the role is critical in looking into complaints made against officers, fire and sheriffs agencies in Denver.

From left: Lisabeth Castle and Mary Opler. Photo courtesy of the Citizens Oversight Board.

Catch up quick: The group announced in August it would reopen applications for the independent monitor position after three finalists were named in February, but a month later, the group said none were deemed a good fit.

  • The Office of the Independent Monitor position has been vacant since January 2021 after the former independent monitor, Nick Mitchell, left for a job overseeing Los Angeles County jails.
  • Mitchell was part of the screening committee that reviewed candidates, according to a board statement.

Details: The new finalists bring professional experience from within the legal system.

  • Castle is a former state public defender who worked in Denver, Brighton and Durango, and now runs a private practice in criminal defense law in Denver. She formerly served as counsel to the Mexican Consulate, and has lectured at the University of Colorado School of Law.
  • A former police officer and prosecutor, Opler works in civilian oversight in Sacramento's Office of Public Safety Accountability, where she's responsible for overseeing internal misconduct investigations in the city's police and fire department.

Context: The previous finalists included Robert Booth II, Joseph Lipari and Dana Walton-Macaulay.

  • Booth is a state assistant deputy attorney general, Lipari was the independent police monitor for Boulder, and Walton-Macaulay who was the deputy director of independent police review in Portland.

What's next: The public has two chances to hear directly from Castle and Opler, including in-person and virtually.

  • First Baptist Church at 1373 Grant St. will host an in-person session on Nov. 29 from 6pm to 7:30pm.
  • A virtual session is scheduled for Nov. 30 from 6-7pm.
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