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Here are 112 ways the Denver Police Department can improve, according to community members

A task force's recommendations to reimagine policing in the wake of George Floyd's death
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Posted at 1:12 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 15:12:48-04

DENVER — The Task Force to Reimagine Policing and Public Safety released a 53-page report Friday listing 112 recommendations for ways the Denver Police Department can improve.

The task force was formed in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and was comprised of more than 40 different groups from various political backgrounds.

The recommendations were broken up into five parts

  • Empowering the community with more resources
  • Minimizing unnecessary interactions with law enforcement
  • Helping people transition back into society after being incarcerated
  • Addressing and healing the harm caused by current policing practices
  • Expanding community involvement and oversight in policing

The City of Denver and the Denver Police Department have yet to commit to any of the recommendations. During a press conference Monday, Mayor Michael Hancock said he is still reviewing the report.

Here are all 112 recommendations broken down into the five parts listed above:

Empower the community with resources

1. Create an autonomous community-led, non-law enforcement institution that will serve as a platform for public funding of community-based public safety programming.

2. Create permanent mechanisms with institutionally-stable decision-making roles for community, including disproportionately affected communities, and Department of Public Safety to collaborate in defining, understanding and producing public safety policies, procedures, rules and practices.

3. Create and fund community workshops led by people with lived experience in the criminal enforcement system that will solicit feedback on City systems that one must engage with for support.

4. Decentralize trauma-informed referral sources to enable community to help each other rather than having to call police or wait for business hours of a single entity (e.g. motel vouchers, etc.)

5. Create online trainings and an education resource bank for families and neighbors to learn how to support people with various mental health and/or behavioral health issues.

6. Broaden free and accessible community-based harm reduction strategies for mental health and substance abuse.

7. Include effective faith-based community services in the overall public safety plan.

8. Ensure funding of community-based public safety through set-asides for reconciliation, not just prospective change

9. Increase city funding potential for qualified community-based organizations that prioritize community care by streamlining and removing cumbersome barriers to Request for Proposal and Request for Qualifications contracting/granting processes.

10. Create, expand and publicly promote crisis mediation and violence prevention and interruption through transformative justice principles and processes.

11. Prevent and eliminate homelessness through a centralized, city-run coordination system across the spectrum of housing needs that reflects real-time data about unit availability and instant ability to pinpoint tailored solutions.

12. Develop a multi-lingual comprehensive health, wellness, safety, and re-entry map of services and programs that includes eligibility criteria, agency and division contacts and application links.

13. Ensure that any initial public safety intervention with unhoused people includes a meaningful attempt to house the individual, with verification filed through the city’s coordination system.

14. Guarantee Department of Safety coordination with housing providers to support long term housing of anyone and everyone involved in the criminal enforcement system.

15. Devote substantial housing funding that targets historically marginalized people and enables them to live in any and all communities and configurations.

16. Promote and create permanently affordable housing options supplementary to Denver Housing Authority Housing units.

17. Eliminate housing barriers caused by racist zoning laws and under no circumstances allow use of law enforcement to address zoning code violation complaints.

18. Cease all city-sanctioned sweeps, cleanups, or any other variation of forced removal of homeless encampments from public property and invest all cost-savings into Safe Outdoor Spaces, trash pick up, portable toilets, case management, and other harm reduction strategies.

19. Build interagency collaboration teams between Criminal Justice, Social Work, Human Services, Education, Housing and for-profit/not-for-profit business sectors to ensure measurably improved delivery of services.

20. Track race, ethnicity, color, gender, economic status, and disability status in police-initiated searches, arrests, incarceration, recidivism, and homelessness to study, share with the public, and correct disproportionate impacts.

21. Adopt the Task Force’s definition of “public safety” and “public health & well-being” in relevant source documents including but not limited to charter and legislation.

22. Guarantee language access in an individual’s native language, including American Sign Language, for all individuals interacting with the Department of Safety or any department or division within. Adopt procedures requiring police use of official, Americans with Disabilities Act compliant language access services when taking enforcement action.

23. Develop a grant-making division within the Department of Safety that includes community decisionmaking via a participatory budgeting model to re-allocate any dollars diverted from police budgets or jail bed reductions. This could mirror the Crime Prevention & Control Commission with more community representation rather than the status quo of heavy City agency representation.

24. Dedicate Community Engagement budgets in all Department of Safety entities to public awareness campaigns about alternative emergency responses (e.g., STAR, Colorado Crisis System, Suicide Prevention, etc.) and streamline emergency triaging of calls by 911 operators to appropriate first responders.

25. Provide aligned or joint trainings to community-based, City-based and state-based emergency responders and victim’s services responder teams that connect and build cross-entity capacity to minimize and/or eliminate a child’s trauma and family separation; and connect caregivers to community-based support services in child protection and immigration cases.

26. Increase the number of co-responder and STAR teams citywide based on demand and eligibility of citizen-initiated requests for service as indicated by historical 911 and crime type data.

27. Strengthen protections for immigrants from any nexus between Denver Police Department and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

28. Determine “authorized strength” and Department of Safety needs by annually conducting Public Safety, Health & Well-being assessment which will include an independent, statistically valid survey of community members and frontline police officers in each police precinct about community needs, community satisfaction and overall safety, health and well-being perceptions. Survey will gauge public perceptions based on newly adopted definition of public safety & well-being.

29. Decentralize and fund courts embedded in communities that are based in restorative practices, transformative justice, and conflict resolution, with community input into judicial assignments through evaluations of procedural justice.

30. Ensure sufficient investment in both inpatient and outpatient treatment and services for mental health and substance abuse disorders.

31. Remove limits to long term health, mental health and substance abuse services.

32. Expand employment opportunities for mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring clients.

33. Incubate employment programs for people with disabilities, including programs for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

34. Require that behavioral health and primary-care physicians, and mental health clinicians, complete trainings on serving people who identify as BIPOC, LGBTQIA, and TGI.*

35. Conduct a study that measures demographic disparities in provision of social services over the last 10 years of our City’s peak growth.

Minimize unnecessary interaction

36. Create and adequately support unarmed community-based non-law enforcement response teams to complement LEAD, STAR and co-responders.

37. Decriminalize sex workers who are victims of human trafficking. Deprioritize enforcement against all sex workers and ensure access to necessary services.

38. Develop, expand and fully fund pre-arrest and pre-booking diversion programs in coordination with law enforcement and community providers, using decentralized, cross-functional teams to coordinate behavioral health assessments and connections to community-based systems of care as well as offering restorative practices and transformative justice options.

39. Decriminalize quality-of-life offenses, survival crimes, and other petty infractions such as drug use, and public intoxication.

40. Decriminalize traffic offenses often used for pretextual stops.

41. Prohibit Denver Police from conducting searches in relation to petty offenses or traffic violations.

42. Remove police officers from routine traffic stops and crash reporting and explore non-police alternatives that incentivize behavior change to eliminate traffic fatalities.

43. Eliminate the need for traffic enforcement by auditing and investing in the built environment to promote safe travel behavior.

44. End the school to prison pipeline by eliminating all school-based public safety contracts, diverting budget savings to social and emotional learning, behavioral monitoring and reinforcement, counseling, and peace-able schools programs.

45. Create regular amnesty events to clear warrants for failures to appear or unpaid fines, and expungement clinics for eligible offenses.

46. Automatically expunge past convictions for actions that are no longer illegal and automatically seal records for certain misdemeanors and low-level felonies.

47. Use data to prevent gentrification-driven displacement and reduce criminal enforcement against displaced people through cross-agency collaboration.

48. Create an ordinance making it illegal to contact law enforcement solely to discriminate against a person for any illegitimate purpose, including a person’s race, ethnicity, disability, religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.

49. Enable and increase ambulatory contracts with Denver Fire and Denver Health to improve response times and allow dispatch of ambulances to STAR calls without police.

50. Create an app to access alternatives for behavioral health crises.

51. Measure the proficiency of all law enforcement personnel (including relevant civilian personnel) as well as 911 dispatchers in the Denver Metro Area to ensure that Crisis Intervention Team training is effective.

52. Invest in a community-based, community-led violence prevention strategic plan that includes but is not limited to traffic stop violence and government sanctioned violence.

53. Remove electronic surveillance absent an active investigation, and prohibit future investments in electronic surveillance in overpoliced communities.

54. Enforce the ban on police preventing civilians from videorecording police activity.

55. Bar the Denver Police Department from entering into blanket contracts with entities to obtain access to surveillance footage and instead require an individualized request to the person who owns the surveillance device.

56. Prohibit the use of facial recognition technology by Denver law enforcement.

57. Require body-worn cameras to automatically activate at a time that captures law enforcement interactions in their entirety.

58. Permit safe injection sites in the City and County of Denver.

59. End cash bail for all defendants accused of serious crimes unless it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant is a flight risk or violent threat to the community. Maintain pretrial jail population at lower levels attained during the pandemic.

60. Improve return-to-court support services and eliminate jail for those who voluntarily make the effort to clear a warrant.

61. Use text messages to notify individuals of deadlines for court and make court appearances possible via free virtual platform.

62. Reduce supervision and probation check-ins for nonviolent crimes and eliminate technical violations and bench warrants that result in more jail or prison time.

63. Create a community-led committee, comprised of those with lived experiences and individuals from most impacted communities, along with the Public Defenders office to review all municipal criminal ordinances to determine which ordinances are antiquated, ambiguous, and unnecessary to public safety, in order to minimize citizens’ interaction with law enforcement and the criminal courts.

Support successful community reentry

64. Create outreach campaigns in collaboration with the communities most impacted by incarceration to prevent trauma, affirm gender identity and queerness and promote social support networks for LGBQ+/ TGI persons who are incarcerated or re-entering society.

65. Remove barriers to reentry that bar formerly incarcerated individuals from obtaining professional certifications, government employment opportunities, public housing, financial aid, and public benefits.

66. Create a funded reentry department by ordinance or executive order for community-based, culturally and gender responsive, trauma informed and survivor initiated transformative justice practices involving both adult and youth justice-involved populations for all crimes.

67. Provide post-conviction free legal and financial assistance to mitigate collateral consequences (e.g. licensing restrictions, record sealing, criminal system debt) and obtain orders of relief and fee waivers to enhance employment opportunities, increase compliance with court requirements and reduce judicial order variation.

68. Connect justice-involved persons with county-funded formerly justice involved community-based advocates that are reflective of the diversity of the reentering population to navigate the judicial system including diversion opportunities.

69. Guarantee non-coercive, equal access to all treatment resources for justice-involved individuals, both in or out of custody regardless of ability to pay. Streamline points of entry within courts, jails and prisons for mental health and substance use disorder services.

70. Create a centralized secure mental health facility for assessments, treatment, and management by psychiatric staff of mentally ill people within 24 hours after incarceration.

71. Provide pre-release services to stabilize people with mental illness before transitioning them to wraparound community-based care.

72. Create community-based treatment facilities to accept patients from jail who have clinical mental health needs, substance use disorders, and/or co-occurring disorders by leveraging HOME Investment Partnership Funds and Medicaid.

73. Assess the entire Denver Community Corrections continuum including probation terms, conditions, and length of supervision to measure the effectiveness in promoting public safety and successful reentry. Invest in ownership and control of county-owned facilities.

74. Prioritize permanent supportive housing, prior to release, for chronically homeless re-entering adults with co-occurring disorders.

Heal the community from harm

75. Implement new standards for DPD interaction with community members that are determined by community members via an open transparent and collaborative process in partnership with the Office of the Independent Monitor, Citizen Oversight Board, Civil Service Commission and Re-Imagining Policing Community Taskforce.

76. Provide culturally competent and mandatory (as a condition of employment) routine mental health supports for officers to address the trauma associated with witnessing and intervening in violence.

77. Change the DPD internal investigation process and ensure internal procedural justice and accountability for officers who experience discrimination, targeting, bullying or silencing for speaking against injustice. This requires the Internal Affairs Bureau and Public Integrity Division be hired, fired and supervised NOT by Denver Police Department nor Sheriff’s but instead the Manager of Safety.

78. Fund the District Attorney and Municipal Public Defender’s Office equitably to ensure caseload, facility and job classification parity.

79. Implement mandatory annual training for every DPD officer on anti-racism and asset-based community development led by external BIPOC diversity and inclusion experts and allow community participation or monitoring to ensure quality.

80. Prohibit the use of handcuffs, pepper spray, or physical restraints of any kind on minors.

81. Prohibit the use of Denver Police Department Gang Unit and all militarized responses and “mutual aid” from surrounding municipalities in Denver-based protests and riots if there has not been documented proof of cross training of officers on Denver policies, procedures and ordinances. In the event that mutual aid ever occurs, every single officer assisting must be identifiable to the public by badge or nametag and some unique municipality identifier and Denver Police Department must log every name and post of every officer assisting and a commanding officer in DPD must assume all liability for anyone assisting.

82. Prioritize family unification for children separated from parents/guardians by allowing persons-involved to choose whose care they are placed in.

83. Mandatory cross-agency training for law enforcement inclusive of but not limited to: public health, human services, community engagement and housing approaches.

Expand the role of the community

84. All law enforcement initiatives need to be evaluated by a neutral outside party (selected by the Crime Control & Prevention Commission) for effectiveness.

85. Make the Office of the Independent Monitor independent by changing appointment authority to City Council and the Citizen Oversight Board and implement a four-year term.

86. Guarantee subpoena power and allow Office of Independent Monitor unfettered access to all departmental documents and systems.

87. Create an independent nomination and selection commission for both the City Attorney and Independent Monitor.

88. Ensure appropriate resourcing for the Office of the Independent Monitor by guaranteeing an annual budget appropriation that is proportionate to the entities the Monitor investigates at a minimum of 2% of their total budgets.

89. Protect the integrity of investigations by guaranteeing Career Service status of Office of the Independent Monitor non-managerial staff.

90. Establish clear documentation and discipline processes when there are violations for homophobic, transphobic, and/or misogynistic harassment or assaults by law enforcement. All allegations of mistreatment of the LGBTQ+/TGI community and women by law enforcement must be escalated and investigated by an independent body and consequences determined outside of the both the DPD and DSD.

91. Create predictable disciplinary measures in violations of use of force policies including automatic termination in cases where life is lost at the hands of law enforcement where the victim was unarmed.

92. Create a sanctity of life statement as a part of the Denver Use of Force policy.

93. Mandate “duty to intervene” & report in all Use of Force cases that extends liability to law enforcement who fail to intervene.

94. Remove the civil service commission from the disciplinary process of law enforcement in Denver and replace with a Civilian Review Commission.

95. Conduct deeper background checks of law enforcement applicants in Denver to eliminate those with known histories of racism and discrimination. If any history of racism or discrimination is found (including racist body markings) the applicant will be disqualified.

96. Investigate and mandate that all current law enforcement officers with racist body markings, paraphernalia (masks), etc are subject to termination especially if there have ever been allegations of racial discrimination.

97. All emergency response training procedures should be developed with community involvement. Stakeholder groups should include those with lived experience of the policy being addressed.

98. Prohibit use of riot gear, weapons and militarized approaches or responses during peaceful protests or demonstrations.

99. Require public hearings prior to acquisition of retired military weapons, the purchase of which must be approved by City Council.

100. Require and publicize an annual, full inventory of all DPD weapons, munitions, chemicals, SWAT gear, body cams, tanks, vehicles.

101. Establish a local licensing board and certification standards (in addition to POST certification) for Denver law enforcement officers as well as a process for revoking certification and a publicly searchable database of every DPD officer and their trainings and certifications as well as complaints against them.

102. Bring full transparency to the DPD budget both the process for determining the budget and granular detail of the money spent.

103. Conduct full and regular independent audits by the Denver Auditor of the DPD’s data and inventory including but not limited to: body camera technology, ticket cameras/wagons, speed detectors, surveillance technology, weapons and programs and policies.

104. Identify and eliminate financial incentives for overtime and/or double-dipping as a DPD officer on city contracts.

105. Collect data on deterrent function and crime resolution functions of surveillance.

106. Ensure that surveillance appropriately deployed only in areas where there has been a proven impact on crime resolution.

107. End Civil Asset forfeiture in Denver without due process.

108. Create a Civilian Review Commission with disciplinary power to replace the Civil Service Commission to work in partnership with the Office of the Independent Monitor, Citizens Oversight Board, Internal Affairs Bureau and Public Integrity Division.

109. End no-knock warrants.

110. Require police and Sheriff departments pay for abuse and misconduct claims or settlements beyond the statewide cap of $25,000 with personal insurance rather than from the city general fund.

111. Require all law enforcement officers to carry personal liability insurance as a condition of employment.

112. Remove the Internal Affairs Bureau from within the Denver Police Department and merge it with the Public Integrity Division responsible for investigations of both police and sheriffs.