These five people will help select Denver’s next police and sheriff watchdog

Mayor Hancock chose two of them and will decide who to nominate — but Denver City Council must approve.

Terrance Roberts leads protesters in chants calling for an end to police violence on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver, July 19, 2020.

Terrance Roberts leads protesters in chants calling for an end to police violence on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver, July 19, 2020.

Kevin Mohatt
staff photos

The Hancock administration on Thursday announced who will select the candidates for the city’s next independent monitor, a civilian position that watchdogs the police and sheriff departments.

The Office of the Independent Monitor needs a new leader since Nick Mitchell resigned in January to oversee reform at Los Angeles County’s jail system. Greg Crittenden, his former deputy, has acted as the independent monitor since Mitchell’s departure.

By law, a group of five people must come up with up to three candidates. These are the people who will make up the committee:

  • Al Gardner, chair of the Citizen Oversight Board, which oversees the work of the independent monitor and helps shape policy related to law enforcement. City law dictates his presence on the committee.
  • Karen Niparko, executive director of the Office of Human Resources. Her role is also guaranteed by city law.
  • City Councilmember Jamie Torres, who represents a chunk of west Denver. City Council President Stacie Gilmore asked her to join the committee.
  • Retired Denver County Court Judge Claudia Jordan. Hancock appointed her.
  • Brian Corr, executive secretary for the Police Review & Advisory Board in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and former president of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement. Corr was also appointed by Hancock.

The committee will run a public input process and hand up to three candidates to Mayor Hancock, who will nominate one. Denver City Council will vote on his selection.

In a prepared statement, Gilmore framed the process as a means to repel racism from the city’s policing and jailing systems.

“We have heard our Denver community and their strong desire to ensure we have diversity and representation, while re-framing public safety from an anti-racist lens,” Gilmore said. “As we move forward, we must find an authentic leader who will hold our safety departments accountable and provide a voice for all of our communities.”

Advocates for criminal justice reform say Mitchell’s shoes are huge ones to fill. In an exit interview, Mitchell told Denverite that whoever steps in should look to strengthen the office as scrutiny of policing and jailing increases citywide and nationally.

Mayor Hancock, who had more control over the committee’s makeup than any one person, said the group “will bring a diverse perspective to finding the next independent monitor.”

“Finding a dynamic leader who will help to reinforce transparency, accountability and public confidence in our safety departments has never been more critical, but I have every confidence they will find that leader,” Hancock said in a prepared statement.

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