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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Denver police firings surge to six this year - The Denver Post

Denver police firings surge to six this year - The Denver Post

With the decision this week to terminate two more Denver police officers, six have now been fired this year — one more than in the previous three years combined.

Authorities said the sudden burst of terminations is largely the result of changes made to disciplinary rules in 2008.

But the firings also have occurred under the watch of a mayor who chose not to seek election to the office, pledged not to let open disciplinary cases linger during his brief term and is not worried about maintaining political support within the Police Department.

The seeds for the terminations — all of which involved officers failing to tell the truth in reports or during investigations — were sown in 2008 when the new disciplinary rules were designed, said the city's independent police monitor, Richard Rosenthal.

"The disciplinary matrix is fully in place now and is being followed by the department with respect to the commission of deceptive acts or lying to internal affairs," Rosenthal said.

On Monday, safety manager Charles Garcia terminated officers Ricky Nixon and Kevin Devine, who were accused of excessive force for an incident caught on camera outside the Denver Diner in 2009. The two were dismissed for "commission of a deceptive act." Garcia found that the reports they filed after the arrests did not match other witness accounts.

David Bruno, an attorney for the police union, said no one other than Garcia who reviewed the case made the determination that the officers had been untruthful. Police Chief Gerry Whitman had recommended suspensions for use of inappropriate force, not firing for dishonesty. Bruno said the officers would appeal the firings to the Civil Service Board.

The firings follow Garcia's termination of Officer Devin Sparks and Cpl. Randy Murr in March for "deceptive acts" days after Garcia was sworn in to the position. Sparks and Murr were caught on videotape during a 2009 beating of then-23-year-old Michael DeHerrera

Garcia "has done more in two or three weeks than has been done in some time. It has been a long time coming," said Anthony DeHerrera, the father of Michael DeHerrera.

Garcia replaced Mary Malatesta, who terminated Officers David Torrez and Jose Palomares as one of her last official acts in the safety manager's office last month. Investigators found that the two officers lied about details of their pursuit of a stolen car.

Prior to Oct. 1, 2008, when former safety manager Al LaCabe introduced a new disciplinary matrix, officers were sometimes fired for lying. But other factors were weighed, including the circumstances surrounding the falsehood, the officer's disciplinary record and how similar cases had been handled in the past.

The new rules presume that an officer who lies in connection with an investigation, even if it is a first offense, will be fired unless there are mitigating circumstances.

"That should be the accepted standard of the Police Department, that if you make a false statement or try to hide something about an investigation, you shouldn't be a police officer," LaCabe said.

All the recent firings were for incidents that took place after the new rules were in place.

During a meeting Tuesday of the City Council's Health, Safety, Education and Services Committee, Garcia said that without the new rules an effective discipline process wasn't possible. "I believe sitting in that seat that you couldn't put together the process without the matrix, it was the key," Garcia said.

Garcia, who was appointed to the position by Mayor Guillermo "Bill" Vidal, is the former head of the Denver public defender's office and the fourth person to hold the job in less than a year.

Read more: Denver police firings surge to six this year - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_17831801#ixzz1JPNn3O48
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