Sheriff’s union renews call for Denver safety directors’ removal

The Fraternal Order of Police is using a weekend meeting in Denver as a platform to blast top officials in the city’s Department of Safety.

The union, which represents the department’s nearly 725 deputies, renewed its call for the resignation of Executive Director Stephanie O’Malley and Deputy Director Jess Vigil. The weekend meeting involves the union’s leaders from 12 Western states and its national office, said Mike Violette, executive director of the union in the state.

The union’s dispute with O’Malley has been simmering for months as she carries out a massive reform of the sheriff’s department. The conflict has led to rallies, tense meetings and accusations of union-busting.

Last fall, the city and union were forced into arbitration after negotiations stalled over deputies’ employment contract.

The sides agreed in March to a 2.7 percent raise for all deputies, Violette said. The raise is retroactive to Jan. 1, and the contract expires Dec. 31.

On Thursday, the union leveled its second allegation of retaliation against O’Malley.

The union believes she launches internal investigations into union leaders who opposed her.

Denver Sheriff Lodge 27 president Mike Jackson is under investigation for failing to attend meetings of Mayor Michael Hancock’s executive steering committee for the reform effort, Violette said.

Jackson, who is a deputy, was appointed in his capacity as the local president and cannot be compelled to attend, Violette said.

“This clearly is just harassment and intimidation,” Violette said.

“It’s intended to have a chilling effect on the membership.”

Simon Crittle, a sheriff’s spokesman, said department rules prohibit him from speaking about internal investigations until they are concluded.

In January, the union also accused O’Malley of retaliation after she fired the sheriff’s department’s former spokesman and second-in-command for giving preferential treatment to a captain who faced criminal charges.

O’Malley has denied acting in retaliation.

As for Vigil, the union called for his termination after his adult daughter posted a comment on Facebook that indicated he hates law enforcement officers.

Vigil, a former district court judge, makes recommendations on discipline.

“For us, seeing that only matches our personal experience with him,” Violette said.

O’Malley said in a statement she and Vigil had discussed his daughter’s posting.

“I am fully satisfied that her statements in no way reflect his sentiments,” the statement said.

And Vigil sent a statement saying he had admonished his daughter “for making erroneous statements for public consumption. I want to be clear that the comments do not reflect my views.”