Aug 14, 2023 - News

New dashboard shows complaints against sheriff deputies, dispatch response time

Illustration of a cracked magnifying glass over a police badge.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Two online and interactive tools are giving the public a closer look at complaints against Denver sheriff deputies and emergency dispatch calls in the city.

Driving the news: The dashboards were launched last week by the Public Safety Department, which oversees the city's police, sheriff deputies and emergency medical services.

Why it matters: The tools break down complaints against the sheriff's department, an agency that's understaffed and trying to expand its authority.

Details: The dashboard details who filed a complaint, like an employee or community members, its discipline outcome, and what rules were violated by a deputy.

  • Complaints against deputies are handled by the Public Integrity Division, which is a civilian unit responsible for handling discipline investigations.
  • Denver Sheriff Elias Diggins in a statement called the dashboards "a great way to improve accountability and transparency" between his department and the public.

By the numbers: Over the past three years, 51% of substantiated complaints — meaning there was enough evidence found to impose discipline — were brought forward by sheriff department employees. Just 19% were filed by the public, while 4% were anonymous.

  • These complaints led to eight firings, while 70 deputies received a written reprimand and 72 were suspended.

Of note: The Public Integrity Division currently has 293 active cases.

Zoom in: Another dashboard provides a closer look at where emergency calls are made to fire, police and EMS.

  • The median time between when a unit is assigned an incident to when it arrives on scene is 5.85 minutes for emergency calls, according to the dashboard. It also tracks non-emergency response rates.
  • For the fire department, it's 3.85 minutes, and for high-priority police calls it's 6.82 minutes.

The intrigue: Denver 911 director Andrew Dameron told us in a statement Monday both staffing and retention have improved for call takers and dispatchers, with staffing levels returning to pre-pandemic levels, now at 93%.

  • Response times for Denver 911 fell below national standards last year due to more people calling the line and fewer trained dispatchers, according to KDVR.
  • This year, the agency got 185 applications during its first two weeks of recruitment for its fall call-taker academy — a "dramatic" increase from a year ago, when getting that many applicants took about two to three months, Dameron tells us.

What they're saying: "With all this success in hiring, a large percentage of our call-taking staff are still completing their training academies and will be released for independent duty in the first two weeks of September," he said in a statement.

What's next: The public is invited to submit feedback or suggestions on the tools to improve them.

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