Lisabeth Pérez Castle will likely be Denver’s next Independent Monitor, the city’s top law enforcement watchdog. The Citizen Oversight Board announced the unanimous decision Monday, after public meetings last week with Pérez Castle and fellow finalist Mary Opler.
City Council must now approve the choice.
Pérez Castle spent 12 years working at the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office. She grew up the daughter of Cuban immigrants in the South Bronx, and established a private defense practice in Denver in 2000.
“I am honored to be selected as the next monitor and I thank the Citizen Oversight Board and the community for putting their trust in me,” Pérez Castle said in a press release. “I pledge to work tirelessly for justice, transparency, and accountability in policing and look forward to collaborating with law enforcement and the community to further strengthen oversight in Denver.”
Opler, the other finalist, is a former prosecutor and police officer currently working in civilian oversight in California.
In last week’s public meetings, Pérez Castle called for increased collaboration between marginalized communities and law enforcement, and more transparency around the monitor’s recommendations.
“Castle’s experience, tenacity, and ability to build strong relationships were among the reasons she was selected,” wrote Citizen Oversight Board Administrator Daniel Van Schooten in a press release. “Castle brings with her a wealth of experience practicing law and managing a law firm, deep ties in our community, and an outstanding reputation for building trust and respect.”
The position has been vacant for almost two years, after Denver’s last independent monitor Nick Mitchell stepped down in January 2021 after releasing a damning report on Denver PD’s handling of the 2020 George Floyd protests. The Department of Justice appointed him to overhaul the Los Angeles County jail system.
The Board failed to hire three different finalists named earlier this year. After City Council passes a resolution formally appointing her, Pérez Castle will begin the new role in January.