Denver’s government is starting a new public process to transform law enforcement after leaving the one started by civilians

We’ll see how this shakes out.

Peaceful protesters surround a Denver Police Department SUV in the middle of Lincoln Street on Monday, June 8, 2020. (Carl Glenn Payne/For Denverite)

Peaceful protesters surround a Denver Police Department SUV in the middle of Lincoln Street on Monday, June 8, 2020. (Carl Glenn Payne/For Denverite)

Carl Glenn Payne
staff photos

The city government will launch its own process of “public safety transformation,” Denver Director of Public Safety Murphy Robinson announced in a letter to staff members Thursday.

“Our goals with this new program is to consistently and constantly have transformation sewn into the fabric of what we do every day,” Robinson wrote. “This process will include, but is not limited to, dialog and conversation with community members, activist groups, officers, deputies, staff, criminal justice system stakeholders and the business community about how to take public safety to the next level and assure that it is accountable and equitable for all people in our community.”

Three weeks ago, Robinson, the civilian head of the police and sheriff departments, pulled government representatives out of a grassroots initiative to reform Denver’s policing and jailing systems. He claimed the group, comprised of over 60 people from around the city, quelled the voices of police officials and wasn’t diverse enough because it lacked business owners and people from government-recognized neighborhood organizations. Some members of the group support defunding or abolishing the police department.

Dr. Robert Davis, who co-leads the Reimagine Policing and Public Safety Task Force born out of last summer’s protests against racism and police brutality, said he wanted police to listen to the conversation more than lead. He also wanted to provide plenty of space for people who had been scarred by the criminal justice system to speak candidly.

The government-led initiative will be open to the public, said Kelli Christensen, a spokesperson for the Department of Safety. She described the process as working “in tandem” with the original group. She said other details will become public in the coming weeks.

The original resident-led group will work with the government “to any extent that is necessary to bring about real and meaningful change that the community has been requesting,” Davis told Denverite on Thursday.

Davis said the Denver Department of Safety will still receive the original task force’s recommendations for change, as will Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver City Council.

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