Nov 14, 2023 - Politics

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston retains city's public safety director and police chief

Denver Public Safety Director Armando Saldate (left) and Police Chief Ron Thomas. Photos: Courtesy of the Denver Mayor's Office

Mayor Mike Johnston announced Tuesday that Denver's top safety officials will keep their jobs.

Driving the news: Armando Saldate was tapped to continue leading the Department of Public Safety, a role he has held since early last year.

  • Ron Thomas, who has served as acting chief of the city's police department since August 2022, was also picked to be reinstated.

Why it matters: Johnston's latest cabinet nominations signal he is maintaining the status quo established under his predecessor when it comes to keeping the city safe.

State of play: The appointments come four months after Johnston took office and more than five months after he started his transition to mayor.

  • They were also unveiled less than a day after Axios Denver asked his office when the mayor would name both positions.

Details: Saldate joined the city in 2014 with the Denver Sheriff's Department and also helped launch the controversial civilian-led Street Enforcement Team in 2021 to crack down on homeless encampments.

  • Thomas, a Denver native, became acting chief of the city's police department after its leader at the time, Paul Pazen, retired from the force. Thomas first joined the police department in 1989.
  • Both Saldate and Thomas were recommended by the mayor's transition committee as finalists, Johnston told Axios Denver earlier this month.

What they're saying: The mayor will work with both leaders on "restoring our police department to full authorized strength, improving our ability to respond to 911 calls, and ensuring we have the right responder for the right incident at the right time," Johnston's spokesperson Jordan Fuja told Axios Denver in a statement.

What's next: Saldate and Thomas will need to be confirmed by the city council in the coming weeks, but a voting date has yet to be set, council spokesperson Robert Austin told us.

  • Johnston still needs to name six more people to finish filling his 14-member cabinet.
  • The mayor is "hoping" to announce the remaining appointments in the "next few weeks," Fuja said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from the mayor's spokesperson.


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