Hancock administration launches independent “Public Integrity Division” to reform Denver Sheriff Department

The mayor is enlisting the help of a marijuana skeptic and a 12-year FBI veteran.

Mayor Michael Hancock speaks at a press conference concerning new leadership for Denver's Department of Public Safety, Feb. 5, 2018. New director Troy Riggs is immediately left of Hancock, while former director Stephanie O'Malley is at right. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Mayor Michael Hancock speaks at a press conference concerning new leadership for Denver's Department of Public Safety, Feb. 5, 2018. New director Troy Riggs is immediately left of Hancock, while former director Stephanie O'Malley is at right. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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The Denver Department of Safety will run an independent investigative force to handle complaints against the Denver Sheriff Department, Mayor Michael Hancock announced Thursday.

The move, which follows the deaths of Marvin Booker and Michael Lee Marshall, who were in custody, takes internal investigations out of the the sheriff’s office. Dubbed the Public Integrity Division, the team’s job will be to investigate complaints against the department, whether they come from members of the public or internally, from employees.

A recent case involving two high-ranking leaders led played a role in the unit’s creation, according to a press release.

About 20 employees — civilians, not deputies — will make up the team, which should kick into gear in the spring or early summer of next year.

“It is a vital step towards enhancing public employee confidence in the sheriff department’s complaint process,” Hancock said at a morning press conference.

Complaints take 239 days to resolve on average, according to safety department Executive Director Troy Riggs.

“Our residents and deputies deserve fair and timely outcomes to these investigations and reviews, and the Public Integrity Division is an important step to ensuring that they are done quickly and with the utmost transparency and integrity,” Hancock said in a statement. “We want our deputies and command staff focused on operations and staffing core functions, and putting these resource intensive, specialized reviews into the hands of capable civilians will make a real impact.”

Eric Williams, hired in may as Riggs’ second in command, will lead the division. He’s a former special investigator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The city hired Bob Troyer, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado under the Trump administration, as a consultant to help form the division. Troyer has vocally criticized Colorado’s marijuana policies in the past.

“I’m very excited to speaking to this larger group and not talking about marijuana,” Troyer said. “This is an unusual experience for me.”

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