DENVER -- Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen says he wants to make the department better following more than a week of protests calling for reform in the wake of George Floyd's death, who died shortly after a Minnesota police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest. In keeping with his word, Pazen changed the department's use of force police effective Monday - but those who've been out on the streets don't think it's enough.
“We are re-evaluating, we are reassessing every single thing that we do in order to improve accountability and keep the city safe,” Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said.
Among the changes at the Denver Police Department? A ban on chokeholds, a requirement for SWAT officers to wear body cams and require officers to report to a supervisor if they intentionally point a firearm at anyone.
“I think the changes that we made with our stronger use of force of policy show that we are willing to listen, we are willing to be open minded and we are ready for change,” Chief Pazen said.
But protesters say they want much more.
“We are proponents of abolishing the police and re-imagining the police, so it’s not enough, really it’s a concession,” Anti-Racist Club organizer Katie Leonard said.
“It’s not a step at all. It’s not a step towards progress. It’s just making people feel comfortable and not holding anybody accountable,” Anti-Racist Club organizer Torrance Brown-Smith added.
Protesters want to see what's going on in Minnesota happen here. City Council there have announced their intent to disband police department.
“These are serious conversations. We recognize that this is a tipping point and we need to work together with our community,” Chief Pazen said.
State Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, said she applauds the changes by the department, but gives much of the credit to the people gathering at the State Capitol.
“These protesters are making a huge difference; none of this would happen without these protesters,” Rep. Herod said.
And she admits there is a need for more.
“This is one step, but it’s definitely not the end,” she added.
The chief also knows more changes could be on the way
“If future policy enhancements, future training enhancements need to take place, we will do that and we will do that in partnership with the community,” Chief Pazen said.
On Monday, Denver City Council unanimously decided to have an independent review into the department’s use of force policy. The chief said he welcomes the review.
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