DENVER – Mayor Michael B. Hancock today announced significant changes within the Denver Sheriff Department, including new leadership and a top-to-bottom review of the department. The reforms will set a new standard of accountability, strengthen protocols for impropriety and help chart a new direction for the agency.
"The public’s trust in its Sheriff Department has been shaken, and that is simply unacceptable," Mayor Hancock said. "The city is taking action to address several recent incidents and to rebuild confidence in the department by raising the bar of accountability among sheriff’s deputies, supervisors and command staff. The people of Denver deserve nothing less than a department they can be proud of."
Sheriff Gary Wilson has stepped down and will remain with the department. Division Chief Elias Diggins will assume the duties of Sheriff on an interim basis with oversight from the Department of Safety until a national search for a replacement can be completed.
"We have a responsibility to conduct the business of the city under the highest ethical standards. Regrettably, certain actions have been brought to light of individuals failing to live up to those standards," said Executive Director of Safety Stephanie Y. O'Malley. "We need to hold those individuals accountable for behavior that is an embarrassment to the hundreds of men and women who serve the department honorably every day."
Four task forces made up of internal and external stakeholders, including safety experts and members of the community, are currently examining training, discipline, staff well-being, and policy and procedures within the Sheriff Department. The DOS will oversee the timely completion of those efforts.
The Office of Human Resources is also completing an assessment of operations and organization at the Sheriff Department. The city will bring in outside operations consultants for any areas that ORH may not have expertise.
In addition, the Mayor has ordered a review of the scope and capacity of the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau to investigate complaints against deputies and other sworn personnel, a recommendation made by the Office of the Independent Monitor.
“The OIM is committed to partnering with the administration in its efforts to reform practices in the Denver Sheriff Department,” Independent Monitor Nick Mitchell said. “My office will monitor and evaluate these changes, and continue to report to the public as they are implemented.”
The Mayor has also instructed the DOS to expedite the review and handling of pending disciplinary cases.
Denver Sheriff Department Division Chief Elias Diggins Background
Diggins started with the Denver Sheriff Department in 1994 and has served the Denver community for 20 years. In 2006, he became the youngest person in the department to be promoted to Major. Today, he is serving as the Division Chief of Downtown Division. His special areas of service include field training, emergency response unit, gang unit, internal investigator and academy instructor.
Prior to his service to the city, Diggins worked for U.S. West Communications and the United Parcel Service. He also served in the U.S. Army Reserves. Diggins is a graduate of the National Institute of Corrections' Executive Excellence Program and is a Certified Jail Manager and Certified Correctional Executive. He served as an auditor for the American Correctional Association and currently sits on the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections. He is also on the Board of Directors of the American Jail Association. Previously, he sat as President of the Black Sheriff Protective Association.
Diggins grew up in Denver, graduated from Montbello High School and holds a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology from Metropolitan State University of Denver. He and his wife, Leslie, have five children.