Denver's new law enforcement watchdog wants to work with the public
Denver's new law enforcement watchdog says she wants to work closely with the people keeping her accountable.
What's happening: Liz Perez Castle was confirmed as Denver's independent monitor in January following a lengthy search to fill the role. Castle is a former public defender who most recently worked as a defense attorney in Denver.
- The monitor is a civilian position overseeing public and internal complaints made against the city's law enforcement agencies.
- She takes over the role two years after former independent monitor Nick Mitchell left the post to supervise jail reform Los Angeles.
Why it matters: Castle starts the job as police and community relations are thrust back into the national spotlight following the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols by Memphis officers.
Driving the news: Castle told Axios Denver in a recent interview she plans on combining feedback from law enforcement agencies and the public to make policy recommendations involving training and other policing methods.
- Castle said the office is nationally renowned, and wants to continue its reputable work.
- She said she's already met with Denver Sheriff Elias Diggins and Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas about collaborating more with the public.
What they're saying: Local police reform activist Alexander Landau, who runs the Denver Justice Project, said Castle is the right person for the job because she envisions her office collaborating with the public — which Landau said the previous independent monitor did successfully.
Between the lines: Castle said the public has repeatedly asked her to focus on helping young people avoid run-ins with police, and she highlighted a program run by the monitor's office as helping with outreach and improving community relationships with law enforcement.
- Bridging the Gap lets students meet with officers, giving them a chance to ask questions, have meals together and discuss topics like implicit bias.
- Thomas said during a January public meeting he looks forward to working with Castle to continue developing the program.
What we're hearing: Robert Davis, co-leader of the Task Force to Reimagine Policing and Public Safety, tells Axios Denver he was glad her hiring was "community-centered" and said he's "hopeful" she will succeed in the role.
- Castle participated in public forums after being named a finalist, and was asked questions directly from the public, which Davis lauded.
- Landau said with a new police chief, a new independent monitor, and a new mayor coming this spring, he feels optimistic about the future of public safety in the city.
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