On February 19, 2019, the Denver City Council voted 10-0 to pass Bill 19-0029.
“I applaud Denver City Council leaders Kniech, Kashmann and Lopez for their commitment to independent oversight in Denver. Community organizations were the catalyst for these critically important ordinance changes, and their work on this bill will help to improve public safety for all of Denver.”Katina Banks, Chair of the Citizen Oversight Board
Among other things, the bill:
- Clarifies that the OIM has jurisdiction to monitor misconduct investigations, if any, into the Chief of Police and Sheriff;
- Expands the COB to nine members, and splits responsibility for appointing COB members between the Mayor and the City Council; and
- Explicitly prohibits retaliation for reporting misconduct to or cooperating with the OIM.
“These changes will help to ensure that the OIM has the tools necessary to provide effective oversight of the Denver Police and Sheriff Departments,” said Nick Mitchell, Denver’s Independent Monitor.
The OIM is Denver’s independent civilian oversight agency and is charged with monitoring investigations into alleged misconduct in the Denver Police and Denver Sheriff Departments (“DPD” and “DSD,” respectively), making policy recommendations to those departments, and conducting outreach to communities throughout Denver. The COB is a volunteer board of appointed community leaders who oversee the work of the OIM, make policy recommendations to the DPD, DSD, and Denver Department of Public Safety and address issues of concern to the community.
Council members Kevin Flynn, Chris Herndon and Mary Beth Susman were absent Tuesday.
Watch Pastor Robert Davis, Denver Park Hill Seventh-Day Adventist Church, testify before the vote:
Together Colorado Faith Leaders Letter to Denver City Council:
Dear Denver City Council,
We the undersigned Metro Denver Faith Leaders write to express our strong support for the proposed ordinance that strengthen the Office of the Independent Monitor (OIM) and the Citizen Oversight Board (COB). As leaders in our various faiths, we are called to stand for love and justice. Even for those of us whose congregations or ministries are not in Denver proper, many of our congregants and members are Denver residents who are impacted by this issue.
A strong and Independent Monitor is key to building better police and sheriff departments and a safer city for the citizens of Denver. We are acutely aware of the need for this oversight as the son of one of our members was racially profiled, unjustly arrested, and jailed last summer. His case was ultimately dismissed by the District Attorney.
The OIM and COB cannot do their job without strong city ordinances that support and protect their independence and investigatory authority. The people of Denver strongly support the OIM, as evidenced by the fact that they passed City Charter 2B by a wide margin in 2016. That amendment succeeded in protecting the OIM’s and COB’s continued existence. However, the OIM has been hampered in its work by a number of structural problems:
- About 6 months ago, the Manager of Safety decided unilaterally that the Chief of Police and Sheriff are not subject to OIM oversight;
- Disciplinary and policy recommendations made by the OIM are sometimes ignored by the Police and Sheriff Departments;
- The COB is overworked.
It is therefore evident that the proposed ordinance is required to ensure that the Monitor can effectively do its job of ensuring accountability and integrity in our city’s law enforcement agencies. We strongly urge you to pass these ordinances.