CONTACT: Lindy Eichenbaum Lent
email@example.comMayor Presents Civilian Oversight Proposal
MAYOR HICKENLOOPER PRESENTS CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT PROPOSAL
Independent Monitor and Citizen Oversight Board Equipped with Resources, Tools, Policies, and Access to Strengthen Public Confidence in Uniformed Personnel
Mayor John Hickenlooper presented his comprehensive civilian oversight plan to City Council on Wednesday. The proposal, which would be accomplished through ordinance changes, written policies, and proposed Charter changes, is drawn from the three civilian oversight proposals developed by the Mayor’s Police Reform Task Force, as well as the Hickenlooper administration’s research into best practices across the nation.
“Effective and robust civilian oversight is a critical component of any law enforcement or public safety organization,” Mayor Hickenlooper said. “And I believe we have devised a system that will result in increased public confidence in how the Police Department and our other public safety departments discipline their personnel, while at the same time supporting our law enforcement officers’ reasonable expectation that discipline be administered fairly and consistently with the rule of law.”
Mayor Hickenlooper’s proposal includes the following key components:
I. Creation of the Office of the Independent Monitor
For the first time in Denver history, an independent, fully-funded civilian office will be involved in the oversight of the investigative and disciplinary processes from start to finish.
The Office of the Independent Monitor will be responsible for (1) actively monitoring and participating in certain investigations of uniformed personnel in the City and County of Denver’s Police, Sheriffs, and Fire Departments; (2) making recommendations to the Manager of Safety, who is responsible for discipline within these three departments, regarding administrative action, including possible discipline, for such uniformed personnel, and (3) making recommendations regarding broader policy issues.
The jurisdiction of the Office of the Independent Monitor will be focused on uniformed personnel who (1) are involved in duty-related incidents which result in serious bodily injury or death, including shootings; (2) are charged with felonies or other crimes; (3) against whom various citizen complaints are brought; and/or (4) about whom the Manager of Safety has requested the Monitor’s involvement. Additional areas of discretionary oversight by the monitor are detailed in the full proposal.
Details on the hiring process for the Monitor, the staffing requirements for the Office of the Independent Monitor, the Monitor’s mandatory participation in criminal and/or internal affairs investigations; timelines for the Monitor’s processes; Internal Affairs’ sharing of information with the Monitor, the Monitor’s involvement with citizen complaints, confidentiality of investigations, and a required annual public report to the Mayor and City Council are provided in the full proposal.
II. Creation of a Citizen Oversight Board
A formally structured citizen panel will have early-stage involvement in monitoring public safety issues, regular contact with the Independent Monitor and safety department heads, and opportunities to affect departmental operations.
The Citizen Oversight Board (COB) will be responsible for (1) assessing whether the Office of the Independent Monitor is effectively performing its duties; (2) making recommendations regarding policy and training issues, and (3) addressing other issues of concern to the community and other interested stakeholders.
The COB will consist of seven individuals, appointed by the Mayor and approved by City Council. Details on the qualifications for COB members, their access to relevant files, and their confidentiality agreements are detailed in the full proposal.
The COB will meet bi-monthly with the Monitor, quarterly in public with the Manager of Safety, Chief of Police, and Undersheriff, and host at least three annual meetings for public comment. Additional details on the purposes of these meetings are included in the full proposal.
The COB will provide an annual public report to the Mayor and City Council, published concurrently with the Monitor’s report, (1) assessing the work of the Monitor, (2) describing the Citizen Oversight Board’s activities, (3) assessing the investigative and disciplinary processes of the public safety departments, (4) recommending ways to improve the safety departments’ relationships with citizens, and (5) recommending changes to policies, rules, hiring, training and complaint processes.
The Citizen Oversight Board will replace the currently existing Public Safety Review Commission (PSRC), which will sunset 180 calendar days after the later of the adoption of this policy by City Council or, if necessary, approval by the citizens of Denver of any changes to the City Charter. Prior to the PSRC’s ceasing of operations, the City, in cooperation with the PSRC, will review the status of all matters that are still pending before the PSRC and determine appropriate ways to resolve or refer those matters.
III. Changes in the Investigative Process
The Independent Monitor will actively monitor all phases of investigative proceedings, including relevant District Attorney’s investigations and active participation in pertinent Internal Affairs Bureau’s investigations.
The Independent Monitor will monitor the District Attorney’s investigation, which includes access to crime scenes at the earliest feasible point, and the ability to observe interviews of witnesses and suggest questions to the interviewers.
The proposal makes it mandatory that the Internal Affairs Bureau investigate all uniformed personnel that (1) are involved in duty-related incidents which result in serious bodily injury or death, including shootings and in-custody deaths; (2) are charged with felonies or other crimes; and/or (3) against whom various citizen complaints are brought.
The Independent Monitor will actively participate throughout the process in pertinent Internal Affairs investigations, which includes (1) the ability to observe interviews of witnesses and suggest questions to the interviewers, (2) access to all investigative materials, and (3) an ongoing dialogue with IAB to ensure the investigation is thorough and complete. If at the end of the process, the Monitor determines that additional investigation is needed, the Monitor can conduct the additional investigative work.
Further details including expedited investigative timelines are available in the full proposal.
IV. Changes in the Disciplinary Process
In addition to requiring expedited disciplinary timelines, the proposal requires that the Independent Monitor be present at all stages of the disciplinary process, conferring with safety departments heads on disciplinary recommendations and conferring with the Manager of Safety on imposed disciplinary sanctions.
The proposal will require the issuance a pre-disciplinary letter within 10 days after the Disciplinary Review Board hearing. To date, there has been no deadline resulting in extended delays. Additionally, the proposal will require that a pre-disciplinary hearing be held within 10 days after the issuance of the pre-disciplinary letter.
The proposal will permit the Independent Monitor to attend, but not participate in, any hearings, meetings and deliberations of the Use of Force Review Board and the Disciplinary Review Board, both of which will have citizen members. The Monitor will have access to any materials to which these boards have access. Within five business days of the department head’s disciplinary recommendation, the Monitor will advise the Manager of Safety whether he/she agrees with the recommendation, and if not, the reasons why.
V. Citizen Participation on the Use of Force Review Board (formerly known as the Firearms Discharge Review Board)
Part of the reform package Mayor Hickenlooper announced in December 2003 included the addition of two civilians to the Firearms Discharge Review Board for the first time in Denver history. The proposal formalizes the process by which this occurs.
The Police Department recently renamed the Firearms Discharge Review Board as the Use of Force Review Board, reflecting the expansion of its scope beyond just weapons discharges. Details on the composition of the board are included in the proposal. The two civilians who will sit on each panel will be selected randomly from a citizens’ pool that is established by the proposal.
VI. Changes to Balance and Structure of the Disciplinary Review Board with Enhanced Citizen Participation
While the Disciplinary Review Board has historically contained four officers and two civilians, this proposal will balance the board with three officers and three civilians. Structural changes to the citizen selection process should further improve the board’s deliberations.
More details on the DRB composition, citizen selection process, and expedited timelines are included in the full proposal.
VII. Eligibility for Membership in Citizens’ Pool
Enabling broader civilian participation, the proposal sets forth a formal, enhanced process for selecting citizens who will serve on the Use of Force Review Board and the Disciplinary Review Board.
Details on the citizens’ pool eligibility requirements and selection processes are included in the full proposal.