DENVER – The Commerce City Police Department, which has been under the spotlight because of misconduct by some officers, will undergo an independent, top to bottom review by the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer and C.O.P.S. Chief Noble Wray made the announcement Wednesday.
“This is something you don’t see every day,” Troyer said. “So often we hear nothing but negativity, resignation, defeat and acceptance that… police and community relations have to be irreconcilably tense and negative. We’re here because Commerce City, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Dept. of Justice do not and will not accept that.”
Mayor Pro Tem Rene Bullock told Denver7 that the heavily publicized incidents of misconduct gave Commerce City a black eye.
In one incident, Officer Kevin Lord lied about being shot during a traffic stop on November 8, 2015. Police issued a blue alert for the alleged suspect vehicle. Investigators created a sketch of the suspect and even offered a $20,000 reward for information in the case.
Lord was arrested five days later, after investigators determined that he had shot himself. The arrest came after he had fingered a potential suspect in a lineup.
Lord, who is no longer an officer, pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence and false reporting and was sentenced to 36-months of probation, a mental health evaluation and 500 hours of community service.
“Yes, we heard from our community and they weren’t happy,” Bullock said. “They said a few of the incidents made them embarrassed for Commerce City.”
When asked for an example of how the comprehensive review will help CCPD, Interim Commerce City Police Chief Lowell Richardson said, “Anytime you can bring in outside professionals that are leading the way in your given profession and who can provide objective assessment of how you’re conducting business, it’s an opportunity for success.”
Lowell went on to say that C.O.P.S. will examine every component of the police department’s operation.
“We’re going to look at best practices for recruitment and retention… we’re going to look at our policies… to see if they’re current… we’ll be looking at some of our systemic processes as it relates to how we provide basic patrol services, how we engage the community.”
C.O.P.S. Chief Noble Wray says the review program is a valuable asset for law enforcement.
“It’s not a short term solution,” he said, “but a long term strategy that focuses on issues that impact the department both internally and externally.”
Wray told Denver7 that following the assessment, the C.O.P.S. Office will issue a report detailing the findings, along with a set of recommendations.
“This will take place six to eight months after we start the process,” he said.
He added that, six months later, “We’ll issue another report, and 12 months after that a final report.”
“The goal of collaborative reform,” he said, “is to help the way law enforcement agencies build community partnerships, enhance transparency and transform agencies through decision making, policies and by establishing accountability measures to conduct their work.
The Fraternal Order of Police supports the effort.
“We have always been proponents for positive reform in our department, and we believe the DOJ can offer a valuable, independently objective assessment of what we do well, what we can do better, and the leadership and personnel changes that will be necessary to institute those improvements,” Lodge 19 President Tom Boskovich said in a news release.
A public meeting will be held on September 14 for residents who have questions about the review.
That meeting will take place at Adams City High School from 6 to 8 p.m.