Denver City Council appoints CRL lobbyist Roger Sherman to group that nominates people to a police watchdog board

He’s qualified for the role, proponents say, but he also has deep connections in the city that raise eyebrows.

Police parked outside Denver's City and County Building during a lockdown Wed., Feb. 27, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Police parked outside Denver's City and County Building during a lockdown Wed., Feb. 27, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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The Denver City Council cemented CRL lobbyist Roger Sherman’s new role on a screening committee that will nominate people to help the city’s police watchdog do its job.

Sherman will vet potential members for the Citizen Oversight Board, a volunteer body that assesses the Office of the Independent Monitor, which watchdogs the city’s police and sheriff departments.

The vote went 9 to 3. Council members Chris Herndon, Jamie Torres, Stacie Gilmore, Kendra Black, Paul Kashmann, Robin Kniech, Debbie Ortega, Amanda Sandoval and Kevin Flynn OK’d Sherman’s appointment. Council members Chris Hinds, Amanda Sawyer and Candi CdeBaca voted against.

Eight of 13 sitting Council members accepted campaign contributions from Sherman, who has embedded himself and his firm in Denver politics. Mayor Michael Hancock has received $6,000 over the years.

Sherman once sat on the Citizens Oversight Board and advocated for stronger oversight of the city’s police and sheriff departments. His experience gives him expertise that will help him vet nominees, pro-Sherman officials argued.

“I am looking for someone who has experience with police oversight and strong standards and a willingness to look for those who have those same strong standards,” Kniech said.

Sherman has no public safety contracts with the city that open him up to conflicts of interest, she added.

CdeBaca led the resistance against Sherman’s appointment because of his deep roots in city politics and his business that aims to influence them. She did not question his experience but questioned the missed opportunity for a new voice — one who led the campaign to keep Denver’s urban camping ban, a law enforced by police.

CdeBaca also questioned Sherman’s deep influence in the city, comparing his new role to a college admissions gatekeeper who assesses who makes it to the next level.

“Information could be transferred to a person for this position through an orientation interview,” CdeBaca said. “It doesn’t have to be him nominating people and recruiting them. And I also think that recycling people who have been in these spaces is another form of consolidating power.”

An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the Citizen Oversight Board as the Citizen Advisory Board.

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