Politics & Policy

Lax Discipline in Denver Police Draws Attention to Hickenlooper’s Mayoral Record

Ron Perea, Denver’s embattled safety manager, is involved in yet another case of lax discipline, which has brought his office and Mayor John Hickenlooper’s administration and goals under scrutiny:

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.[…]

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

The Denver Post has called for Mayor Hickenlooper–the current Democratic gubernatorial candidate–to take a long, hard look at one of his appointees:

Only weeks into his new role as Denver’s safety manger, Ron Perea’s tenure has been nothing short of embarrassing. Worse, his decisions could eventually endanger the city’s security.

The public must be able to trust that Denver’s public safety officers comply with the laws and regulations they are sworn to protect and observe. But Perea’s recent decisions undermine the public’s confidence. […] [emphasis added]

Hickenlooper, who hired Perea, needs to determine if his decisions jeopardize the reforms the mayor has tried to install over the years. And he needs to know if he can trust his safety manager’s judgement. […]

Hickenlooper should consider Perea’s actions a threat to his hard-fought police discipline reforms, and take corrective action. [emphasis added]

Hickenlooper defended his city’s chief safety officer following calls for Perea’s resignation from the Latino community:

“I think Ron Perea is in a new job that he has never done before,” the mayor said. “But if you look at his narrative, his life and his resume, I think he has the right experience. But it takes a while to communicate effectively around decisions, and maybe to figure out how to approach that decisionmaking.”

LoDo (Lower Downtown Denver) patrons aren’t as confident as the mayor appears to be when it comes to Denver Police:

“The perception, at least right now, doesn’t seem to be very positive for police officers,” said Joseph G. Sandoval, professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State College of Denver. […]

Sandoval believes Denver Police have a serious trust issue right now.

“People on the street saying, ‘Oh, here come the police, let’s hope he doesn’t beat us because we have cell phones,’” said Sandoval. “The police are such a crucial part of our fabric in our society that there has to be that trust.” [emphasis added]

Professor Sandoval is no relation to this NRO author.

Mayor Hickenlooper responded Friday:

Friday, Mayor John Hickenlooper says judging all police officers based on these incidents is unfair.

“99 and 44/100ths of our police officers are dedicated,” said Hickenlooper. “They work above and beyond the call of duty. They literally put their lives on the line for people in this community.”

Even the left is worried–“Mayor Hickenlooper asleep at the wheel in cop cases.”


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