Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Second discipline case erupts for Denver safety manager - The Denver Post

Second discipline case erupts for Denver safety manager - The Denver Post

Denver Safety Manager Ron Perea's refusal to fire a police officer in yet another controversial abuse case could seriously undermine a new discipline system it took the city six years to put in place, critics said Friday.

For the second time in less than three weeks, Perea clashed sharply with Independent Monitor Richard Rosenthal and the Citizen Oversight Board, this time over an officer found to have lied about the use of excessive force.

Perea, under fire in a separate, highly publicized case in which he issued light discipline in a police beating caught on video, met in a closed-door session with the board and Rosenthal on Friday to defend his decision to give Officer Eric Sellers a suspension of 45 days without pay for "inappropriate force" and "commission of a deceptive act."

The board unanimously decided to issue a report disagreeing with Perea's discipline of Sellers. The board never publicly criticized the decisions of former Safety Manager Al LaCabe during the seven years he held the post.

Roxane White, chief of staff to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, said late Friday, "Ron is seriously reconsidering his decision."

In addition to meeting with the Citizen Oversight Board, Perea also met Friday with the city attorney's office to review his discipline of Sellers.

"The purpose was to meet with him and review the order from a legal perspective, and to analyze his decision under the terms of the new disciplinary matrix and new discipline handbook," said City Attorney David Fine. He added that he believes Perea has the power to reverse his decision in the Sellers case, something city officials expect him to do soon.

"It's the Wild West"

The push to fire Sellers was applauded by the man who filed the complaint in the case, Jared Lunn, 23, of Commerce City, a volunteer firefighter in Brighton.

He said Sellers put him in a choke hold, handcuffed him and treated him to a profanity-laden tirade after he criticized the officer for failing to press charges against someone who punched Lunn and knocked a pizza out of Lunn's hands on a Lower Downtown street on Nov. 23, 2008.

"Denver police, to me, are basically criminals with badges," Lunn said. "I have no respect for them. I somewhat fear them because it's Wild West out there for them."

Under a new police discipline system the city began using in October 2008, lying to internal affairs investigators, as Sellers was found to have done about his confrontation with Lunn, is a cause for "presumptive termination."

Many police departments consider such lying a fireable offense because it calls into question the ability for the officer to be believed when he testifies in court.

LaCabe spent years crafting a new discipline system to replace one that required officials to use past discipline decisions to determine punishments.

Under the new system, specific violations lead to specific presumptive punishments. Lying under oath is among the most serious of offenses in the new system. Such lying is included in a category of "egregious misconduct substantially contrary to the standards of conduct reasonably expected of one whose sworn duty is to uphold the law."

Despite the new discipline system, Perea decided to grant mitigation to Sellers, in part, because he believed it took too long for LaCabe to decide how to punish Sellers. Perea inherited the case when he became safety manager this year and assumed oversight of the city's police, sheriff and fire departments.

Perea has declined to publicly discuss his discipline of Sellers because Sellers has appealed his decision to a civil service hearing officer.

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