Mayor suggests big spending for law enforcement

Posted at 3:22 PM, Sep 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-14 17:22:25-04

$25.4 million could be put into Denver's 2016 budget to make changes and improvements in the Sheriff and Police Departments.

Almost all of that, approximately $24 million, is being proposed for the embattled Sheriff Department under Mayor Michael Hancock's new budget proposal. According to Hancock's office, that money would be used for hiring additional deputies, deputy training, acquiring technology, tracking data and facility improvements.

Over the last several years, the Denver Sheriff's Department has been plagued with issues ranging from excessive force causing death or injury, to theft by a top commander and allegations that the former second-in-command lied and gave preferential treatment to a captain accused of domestic violence.

Hancock ordered a review of the department in 2014 after a string of excessive-force cases embarrassed the department and cost the city more than $9 million in legal settlements and lawyers' fees.

The review, by Hillard Heintze, found problems at almost every level of the Denver Sheriff Department and discovered 14 key findings and created 277 recommendations for change.

The group also recommended that Denver hire a new sheriff from outside the department. A search began in July.

Hancock's 2016 budget proposal also includes $1.4 million to purchase additional body cameras for Denver's police force. The cameras have been tested in a pilot program in one district, and those results were studied to make recommendations for improvement before more officers get the equipment.

A July report indicated that full deployment of body cameras to all of the officers in the department would cost about $6.1 million over five years.

Other items in the 2016 budget proposal:

  • $7.1 million for the city’s transportation system investment
  • $8 million for affordable housing to create hundreds of new units
  • $5.5 million for the new Solutions Center and the expansion of homeless shelter space and $2.9 million for permanent supportive housing
  • $3.6 million for 51.5 new child welfare employees, after several Denver Human Services errors led to the deaths of children last year
  • $2 million to increase staffing in the Department of Community Planning and Development