Denver police union urges changes to plan to strengthen monitor

The Denver police union and the city’s independent monitor who serves as a watchdog to the department have fired off opposing letters over a plan to strengthen the monitor’s oversight.

Last week, the Denver Police Protective Association, which represents the department’s 1,420 officers, said in a letter that it wants to prevent the monitor from receiving personal information about officers. The monitor would be able to submit a written request to officers for information, but that would be subject to arbitration in the city courts, the police union’s letter said.

The police union also wants the City Council to restrict what it calls the monitor’s wish for “unbridled and unnecessary access to information” recorded by officers’ body cameras.

The letter was sent Friday to Denver Councilman Paul Lopez, who leads the city’s safety and well-being committee and is the sponsor of changes to the city’s ordinance that regulates the monitor’s office.

The safety committee last week unanimously approved changes to strengthen the monitor’s office. A public hearing on the changes will be held Tuesday before the City Council takes its first vote on the proposal.

Monitor Nick Mitchell, however, objected to the police union’s proposal.

He wrote in a letter sent Monday to Lopez that he already has access to police personnel files, something that is necessary to investigate officer misconduct. That information is protected and kept secure, the letter said.

“This loss in transparency is antithetical to your proposal, and would both weaken civilian oversight and reduce transparency in Denver law enforcement,” Mitchell wrote.

Mitchell also criticized the police union’s request that the monitor send written notice to officers about requests for personnel documents. That measure would create bureaucratic gridlock and would cripple his staff’s operations, the letter said.

The Citizen Oversight Board, which oversees the monitor, and the ACLU-Colorado also sent letters opposing the police union’s request.

Noelle Phillips: 303-954-1661, nphillips@denverpost.com or twitter.com/Noelle_Phillips

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_27506859/denver-police-union-urges-changes-plan-strengthen-monitor