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Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen announces retirement

Paul Pazen
Posted at 3:28 PM, Aug 31, 2022

DENVER — The chief of the Denver Police Department announced Wednesday that he will be retiring from his position and the department after 28 years on the force. Paul Pazen’s last day will be Oct. 15.

Pazen has served as chief of the department since June 2018, taking over after former chief Robert White retired. He has been with the department since 1994.

Mayor Michael Hancock nominated Ron Thomas, currently the department’s division chief of patrol, to be the city’s next top cop, pending city council approval. Thomas will assume day-to-day management of the department as acting chief beginning Sept. 6, the city said.

Pazen has served as chief amid an increase in violent crime and heightened scrutiny of the department following an officer-involved shooting in July in Lower Downtown Denver that injured six bystanders.

But Chief Pazen also introduced new initiatives to curb violent crime in “hot spot” areas and tackled the city’s fentanyl crisis, according to a news release from the city.

“Chief Pazen has had a distinguished career with the Denver Police Department, and over his nearly three decades in law enforcement, he has served the residents of our city at nearly every level of the department, including its highest rank, with integrity and a community-focused approach to policing,” Mayor Hancock said in a statement. “I want to thank Chief Pazen for answering the call to serve, and for his leadership of our community’s police department during these difficult past few years in the life of our city and our country.”

Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen announces retirement after 28 years with the department

Mayor Hancock is tasking Division Chief Thomas to create and implement new strategies to reduce rising crime and aggressively recruit new officers, the city said in a news release, when he takes the reigns from Pazen in October.

Denver DA Beth McCann released the following statement regarding Pazen's announcement:

“Chief Pazen is a dedicated public servant who ushered in many positive and launched many new programs like STAR and LEAD which are serving the people of Denver well. He was committed to improving relationships between the police and the community. His concern about the recent rise in crime led to a targeted focus on hot spots and emphasis on removing illegal guns from our streets. My office has enjoyed working with him for the last several years. On behalf of the Denver DA’s Office, I thank him for his dedication and leadership and stand ready to support Division Chief Ron Thomas once he is confirmed.”

The Denver Police Protective Agency also released a statement:

"On behalf of the men and women of the Denver Police Protective Association (PPA), we wish Chief Pazen well in his upcoming retirement and we understand the increasing demands on a law enforcement officer in the State of Colorado and the City of Denver. Chief Pazen’s departure, along with hundreds of other experienced officers leaving the profession, comes as no surprise as the risks to personal safety, livelihood and freedoms are higher than they have ever been. The PPA looks forward to working with newly appointed Chief Thomas in addressing these concerns while providing safety to the citizens of Denver."