The group publishes suggestions for reforming the Denver police drive, courts and prisons
The group tasked with overhauling the Denver police, prisons and courts released its recommendations on Friday.
A team of residents, elected officials, community groups and city government officials on Friday released 112 recommendations that lead to a sweeping new vision for how the Denver police, prison and judiciary work.
Among the many changes recommended to those in power, the first is to “create an autonomous, community-run non-law enforcement agency to serve as a platform for public funding of community-level public safety programs,” it says in the list.
Other recommendations include creating community-level courts, decriminalizing drug use and public poisoning, and removing armed police officers from routine traffic stops. Also on the list are increasing housing for homeless people and legalizing safe drug use websites.
The group also wants to make the Independent Monitor’s office, which oversees the police and sheriff departments, more independent by having the Denver City Council appoint the head of the office in place of the mayor, who also decides who will run the Denver Police Department and the Denver Sheriff -Department.
In general, the changes are aimed at giving residents and community groups more power to address public safety and its socio-economic fundamentals, and giving locals more control over the police and sheriff departments. The group also hopes to reduce interactions between police officers and the general public in order to send fewer people to the criminal justice system and avoid the violence that can result from interaction with the police.
Members of the group, which has been meeting since last summer, said the recommendations are meant to change the systems that have resulted in people of color walking through the criminal justice system disproportionately compared to whites.
The recommended guidelines, however, depend largely on the decision-makers – elected officials – whether they are implemented by law in the city council or by instructions from the mayor.
“I am optimistic because this is community. And ultimately our elected community officials respond, ”said Dr. Robert Davis, who co-led the task force. “And the fact that this was such a strong community initiative and received so many votes is going to be extraordinarily difficult for the city council to say, in my opinion, we just won’t.”
Davis said the city council would take up the recommendations this summer.
In a text message, Mike Strott, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Hancock, said, “We have received the recommendations and look forward to reviewing them.”
Hancock’s security department, which oversees the police and sheriff’s departments, would play an important role in implementing the recommendations. But its director, Murphy Robinson, pulled out of the process, claiming it marginalized police officers and business owners.
A security department spokesman Kelli Christensen said Robinson was looking forward to reviewing the recommendations and repeated the mayor. Robinson will meet with Davis about her, Davis told Denverite.
The full list of recommendations can be found here.