Denver, CO

Denver may put crime prevention commission into police hands

David Heitz

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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Denver City Council will vote Monday on whether to move the Crime Prevention and Control Commission into the hands of the public safety department.

The commission currently is governed by the Department of Public Health and Environment. The commission’s goals include making sure inmates get mental health treatment and don’t return to jail. Additional objectives include decreasing the jail population and fostering innovation and alternatives in the criminal justice system, according to a presentation to council.

“Staffing and other administrative support for the commission shall be provided by the Department of Safety and hiring decisions shall be made with input from the commission’s officers,” according to the presentation.

Woman criticizes move

On Monday, several speakers during public comment period criticized the police. Laney Rush specifically spoke against moving the commission to the Public Safety Department.

“Considering the recent and continued and well-publicized reckless misuse of force that the DPD regularly engages in, I don’t think there’s confidence that the department can prevent crime.”

Councilmember Robin Kniech, who chairs the Safety, Education, Housing and Homelessness Committee, also expressed alarm at the shooting. “I share the deep distress of our community over the gun-related injuries suffered by six bystanders in Sunday’s Denver Police Department officer-involved shooting in LoDo,” Kniech said in a news release. “It is a tragedy any time guns harm and traumatize our community, but when that tragedy involves guns fired by our officers, additional scrutiny and accountability are required.”

Commission will make funding recommendations

In 2021, a commission subcommittee began a review of the crime prevention group. The subcommittee recommended placing the commission under the domain of public safety.

Under the changes, the commission would vote to make funding recommendations for individual projects instead of receiving a pre-determined amount of funding each year.

Under additional proposed changes, the commission “will establish and adopt bylaws and internal guidelines governing its operations, including duties and responsibilities of the commission's officers, and will promulgate rules and regulations as necessary to achieve the purposes of this division,” according to the presentation.

City settles another police lawsuit

Also Monday, the council will vote to settle another lawsuit against the police department. If approved, the city will pay $95,000 to Timothy Nelson. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit in Arapahoe County District Court, Case No. 2021-CV-30733.

The city has been settling lawsuits against the department for the past several months. Most of the settlements stem from the George Floyd protests of summer 2020.

Last week, Denver settled a lawsuit filed by a man a police officer called a turd. During that same meeting, the city settled a lawsuit alleging mistreatment of a disabled inmate in Denver jail.

Millions paid this year in police settlements

Last month, the city paid $325,000 in a police brutality lawsuit. Denver paid more than $2.3 million to settle lawsuits against the police department earlier this year.

According to the police, more cases are pending. In January, Jacqlin Davis, public information officer for the City Attorney's office, said the city had 12 protest-related lawsuits pending. Several have multiple plaintiffs, she said.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

Denver, CO
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