A series of three community meetings on the Denver Police Department’s draft use-of-force policy start tonight. The Denver Justice Project, which works on police violence and accountability issues, has six changes its members want to see.
- Explicitly require officers to attempt or exhaust all other remaining, less severe alternatives before resorting to using deadly force;
- Expressly prohibit the use force on a civilian as punishment of any kind;
- Specifically require officers to attempt to provide life-saving first aid to people they have shot or seriously injured on the scene at the earliest possible time;
- Offer a definition that average people could understand about what is to be considered “reasonable” in the policy’s requirement that officers use force that is “reasonable and necessary.”
- Require comprehensive reporting on all incidents where officers use force, including threats of deadly force (for example, reporting instances where an officer threatens a civilian with a firearm) on pain of formal discipline;
- Include an official use-of-force continuum or matrix that defines or limits the types of force and/or weapons that can be used to respond to specific types of resistance.
In a press release, Denver Justice Project said the draft policy has a lot of positive elements that could prevent deaths and injuries doing forward, but like many of the experts the Denver Post spoke to, they want to see more specificity in the policies.
They also said the department’s process — developing the policy internally and then rolling it out for public review with only an email address for feedback — was flawed and said DPD should have used a process similar to that of the Denver Sheriff’s Department, which convened a working group of activists and experts to work alongside sheriff’s deputies and administrators to develop the policy.
They also want the Office of the Independent Monitor to play a larger role in developing the policy from the beginning. Independent Monitor Nicholas Mitchell is expected to release his own analysis of the policy soon.
The meeting comes one day after the department announced its final action in the killing almost two years ago of 17-year-old Jessica Hernandez. The officers involved will not be disciplined because the conduct review office found they were following the policies that existed at the time.
Community meetings start tonight.
When: Tuesday, Jan. 24, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver, 3333 Holly St.
When: Saturday, Jan. 28, 9 a.m. to noon
Where: Elevate Denver Church, 2205 W. 30th Ave.
When: Saturday, Feb. 4, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Red Shield Community Center, 2915 N. High St.
People can also submit comments via email at DPDPlanning@denvergov.org until Feb. 5.
The police department expects to issue a final policy in mid-February.