PICK UP YOUR PEN! Letter-writing Campaign: Shame the Denver Police and Sheriff Departments!
The Denver Police and Sheriff Departments, along with Denver’s Department of Safety, are withholding necessary information from the Office of the Independent Monitor.
The Independent Monitor, Nick Mitchell, is there to review citizen complaints and make recommendations to the departments. He should have access to all the information he needs in order to do so. Instead, the Police and Sheriff Departments and the Department of Safety are withholding records such as internal memos, inmate complaints, and footage from the new body cameras.
Yes, we want real citizen oversight. Yes, we want the power to investigate police misconduct taken out of police hands. We are working on a long-term strategy—and if you want to help, please contact us!—but in the meantime the Monitor must be allowed to do his job.
That is why we are starting this letter-writing campaign, to shame the Denver Police and Sheriff Department and the Department of Safety for not cooperating with the Independent Monitor.
Many of you do not live in Denver, and you may have pressing concerns about police brutality in your own communities. This campaign focuses on the city and county of Denver, but we have not forgotten that action is needed elsewhere as well. We will continue working to see true citizen oversight statewide.
Write to the Executive Director of the Department of Safety, Stephanie O’Malley, who works directly with the Independent Monitor. Contact information is below. Tell her to stop hampering the Monitor’s efforts to get the information he needs.
Write to the Mayor and the City Council and tell them to support full access for the Office of the Independent Monitor.
Write letters to the editor, to keep the issue in the public eye. When we have built enough public pressure, the Police and Sheriff Departments will be forced to respond, and the only way they can reasonably respond is by doing what is required of them by law.
Here are some bullet points you might mention in your letter...
The office of the Independent Monitor was created in response to community demands for civilian oversight over law enforcement.
When the office was created, then-Mayor Hickenlooper promised the Monitor would be able to review the handling of all citizen complaints against law enforcement and would have all the tools he needed to evaluate and make recommendations regarding the resolution of those complaints.
In order to carry out his responsibilities, the monitor needs full access to all information regarding both the Denver Police Department and Denver Sheriff Department.
Stephanie O’Malley, Executive Director of the Department of Safety, cites “legal considerations” as the reason why records are being withheld, but she has not specified what those considerations are. The Citizen Oversight Board has indicated that any legal considerations can be resolved through a confidentiality agreement.
To allow the Monitor to fulfill his duties and responsibilities, the default assumption should be that the Monitor should be allowed access to any information he requests, and the burden should be on the Executive Director to justify any restrictions.
The serious abuses in the Denver jail, now the focus of reforms, would never have come light if the Monitor had not been able to access records and information regarding inmate complaints. The Monitor needs full access to prevent future abuses.
Abuses like those at the jail and others by DPD officers have resulted in public mistrust of law enforcement. The Hancock administration made a commitment to restore public trust, but it cannot do so if it denies access to information to the city’s only source of independent civilian oversight of law enforcement.
Used properly, body cameras could be a step toward police accountability. If the police are the only ones with access to the footage they collect, the cameras are nothing more than an empty gesture.
If the city denies the Monitor access to information, many people will assume that it is because the city is attempting to cover something up.
Please use your own words when you write. We don’t want form letters. We want lots of unique letters with the same overall point. Don’t feel the need to include all the information above. Keep it simple and to the point.
Write or call Stephanie O’Malley, the Executive Director of the Department of Safety