The Denver Sheriff Department, led by Sheriff Elias Diggins, comprises over 1,100 uniformed and non-uniformed staff overseeing many diverse divisions and operations including two jail facilities, security for the district and county court systems, state inmate transportation, extradition duties, fugitive and K-9 units, a vehicle impound facility, and security at Denver Health & Medical Center.
The mission of the Denver Sheriff Department is to provide safe and secure custody for those placed in our care and to perform all of our duties in a manner that is responsive to the needs of our diverse community.
The Denver Sheriff Department is committed to being a model law enforcement agency by:
- Being dedicated to our employees, maintaining a department based on a solid foundation of open, honest communication, quality leadership, training and mutual support
- Earning the respect and confidence of our diverse communities by maintaining a covenant of public trust
- Being committed to best practices
- SAFETY: We continually maintain and improve core competencies and specialized skills so as to enable us to fulfill our obligation to protect department personnel, other law enforcement agencies, service providers, detainees and the public from harm.
- HUMANITY: We treat everyone humanely.
- ETHICS: We set positive examples in both our personal and professional lives, and consistently behave in accordance with the highest standards expected of the law enforcement community.
- RESPECT: We acknowledge the dignity of every individual.
- INTEGRITY: We demonstrate the highest standards of honesty and accountability in both our personal and professional lives.
- FIDUCIARY: We hold a position of trust and act at all times with the highest standard of care to those placed in our custody.
- FAIRNESS: We treat everyone in a manner free from discrimination, favoritism and bias.
- SERVICE: We work together to maintain an environment that fosters customer service and professionalism.
On December 2, 1902, the Denver Sheriff Department (DSD) was established. In 120 years, the DSD has undergone changes in facilities, locations, and operations. In addition to longstanding duties, the DSD now provides security for the courts, civil services, and much more. Among all this change, however, there is one thing that remains constant: the commitment and dedication of those who build their career within this department.
What began with a handful of employees has grown into the largest sheriff department in the state of Colorado which, at capacity, accommodates over 1,100 uniformed and civilian positions. The passage of time has witnessed a transition from handwritten or typed documents to a state-of-the-art digital jail management system and other such technological advances.
Facilities have kept pace with current times since the founding of the Denver Sheriff Department. Two facilities – the Van Cise-Simonet Downtown Detention Center (DDC) and the Denver County Jail (COJL) – are the most notable in this regard.
Initially, the city jail was located on the fourth floor of police headquarters, then moved to the Pre-Arraignment Detention Facility (PADF) until the DDC broke ground in 2010. The DDC is named for Philip S. Van Cise (former Denver district attorney) and Louis John Simonet (18 years as undersheriff). It was built in 2010 to serve as the city jail, housing people who have been detained while they await trial.
After opening in 1956, the COJL saw a great deal of demolition, renovations, and expansions to accommodate the ever-growing Denver population and institute direct supervision pods, which are used for the long-term care and custody of inmates.
Floors six and seven of Building 24 at the COJL were recently the focus of a groundbreaking remodel. As a result, since 2021, females in DSD custody have been housed in a space specifically designed for them. Experts from within the DSD, and the greater community, worked together to ensure the construction of a gender-responsive and trauma-informed design for women spending time in jail. Historically, jails have been designed to accommodate men; a modernized environment built deliberately for incarcerated women, in conjunction with investment from the City and County of Denver, is truly a progressive model – one that correctional facilities across America will surely follow for years to come.
The DSD has faced many challenges over the years, prompting a department-wide reform effort in August 2014. A subsequent top-to-bottom, independent review of the DSD resulted in more than 400 recommendations. Four years later, in August 2018, the tremendous effort of implementing and validating hundreds of recommendations was completed with only three pending technology-related recommendations. The reform impacted DSD culture and its organizational structure, resulting in the institution of continuous performance improvement and the use of data to inform decision-making and the betterment of the department’s organizational health.
Prior to 2017, the DSD strategic plan – managed by the DSD finance team – focused on how the department budget impacted performance. In 2017, in partnership with a contracted vendor and influenced by employee feedback, the DSD leadership team developed a comprehensive and malleable strategic plan, meant to be regularly reevaluated and updated. It builds upon successes within four major pillars, each with its own objectives and action plan: organizational culture, employee experience, inmate wellness, and community partnerships. A year after it was implemented, in 2018, executive leaders began updating the focus areas – tactics, feedback mechanisms, and data measurements – of each pillar. Then, in 2019, as part of the commitment to continuous improvement, the DSD updated the original strategic plan by rolling out the DSD Strategic Plan 2.0. As the department continues to evolve and meet the needs of its employees and the Denver community, the Strategic Plan 2.0. is being reviewed and will receive an update in the later part of 2022.
While the DSD was working toward an overall shift in strategy, it was also responding to an unexpected health crisis that afflicted the planet. The World Health Organization, on March 11, 2020, declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic. In partnership with Denver Health (DH) medical staff, DSD leadership determined that aggressive and proactive testing protocols would be one of the most important tools in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 within jail facilities.
On March 25, 2020, the DSD implemented a screening policy to ensure every person who was symptomatic upon being booked into custody would be immediately tested. By April 27, 2020, testing protocols were expanded to include all people being booked into custody, regardless of whether symptoms were present. This policy was implemented after new research identified the significance of COVID-19 spread via asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic cases. This early action allowed the DSD to closely monitor trends in in-custody cases and take preemptive steps to monitor spread.
The DSD was the first to introduce aggressive testing among people in custody, acting weeks and sometimes months before similar protocols were implemented in nearby jurisdictions. While the DSD relied on comprehensive laboratory testing, the agency also expanded screening questions to include COVID-19 symptoms and implemented temperature checks for all incoming bookings. The DSD and DH medical staff began distributing COVID-19 vaccines to individuals in custody in March 2021.
As the largest sheriff department in the state of Colorado, and after rising above so many strenuous challenges, it is an honor to be recognized by the National Sheriff’s Association with the Triple Crown Award. This award is representative of receiving simultaneous accreditation from three main facility auditors for demonstrating a commitment to best practices: the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), the American Correctional Association (ACA), and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC). The DSD continually strives to lead with humanity in every way and meet the needs of the Denver community with grace. Here's to the next 120 years!
Black Sheriff's Protection Association
The Black Sheriff's Protective Association was established in 1976. Its purpose is to further the development and maintenance of professionalism in law enforcement, to strike racial degradation, and to improve relationships between DSD and the community.
Visit the BSPA on Facebook
Denver Sheriff Latino Organization (DSLO)
The goal of the National Latino Peace Officers Association is to promote equality and professionalism in law enforcement. The objectives of the organization are to create a fraternal/professional Association that provides its members and members of the community with career training; conferences and workshops to promote education and career advancement; mentoring; and a strong commitment to community service.
Contact the LPOA via online via form submission
Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 27
TheFraternal Order of Police is the world's largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers, with more than 330,000 members in more than 2,200 lodges. We are the voice of those who dedicate their lives to protecting and serving our communities. We are committed to improving the working conditions of law enforcement officers and the safety of those we serve through education, legislation, information, community involvement, and employee representation. No one knows the dangers and the difficulties faced by today's police officers better than another officer, and no one knows police officers better than the FOP.
International Association of Women Police (IAWP)
Mission: To strengthen, unite, and raise the capacity of women in policing internationally.
Vision: IAWP envisions a world where police reflect the diversity of the communities they serve and where human rights are protected. To learn more about IAWP visit their website and Facebook.
Latin American Law Enforcement Association (LALEY)
LALEY aims to promote the advancement of Latinos and other underrepresented groups in the department and to improve the department’s relationship with the community by protecting the rights of others and promoting camaraderie through social activities. Members are committed to mentoring and assisting one another and advocating for the equal representation of all members of the Denver Sheriff Department.
To learn more about the Latin American Law Enforcement Association, visit their website.
Teamsters Union, Local 17
Founded in 1903, the Teamsters mission is to organize and educate workers towards a higher standard of living.
There are currently 1.4 million members under 21 Industrial Divisions that include virtually every occupation imaginable, both professional and non professional, private sector and public sector.
To learn more about the Teamsters Local 17, visit their website. To learn more about the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, visit their website.
Visit and join the Teamsters Local 17 on Facebook.
DSD LGBTQ+ Community Liaison
The Denver Sheriff Department LGBTQ+ Liaison specifically addresses issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community within the department. The liaison is open-minded, fair, and impartial and develops working partnerships with members of this diverse community. The DSD is committed to being a model law enforcement agency by earning the respect and confidence of our communities by maintaining a covenant of public trust.
LGBTQ+ organizations and community members who would like to provide a service, act as a resource, or are interested in having a DSD LGBTQ+ Community Liaison attend their meeting or function, may contact us via email at DSDLGBTQLiaison@DenverGov.org.
Elias Diggins was sworn in as the Sheriff of Denver (CO) in July 2020. He has been with the Denver Sheriff Department since 1994, holding all uniform ranks with various assignments during his career. He is a staunch supporter of both the community and the men and the women of the Denver Sheriff Department. He is a Colorado native and grew up in the east Denver neighborhood of Montbello.
He is a nationally recognized law enforcement official and a past-president of the American Jail Association (AJA), where he is also a Certified Jail Manager. During his term as AJA President, he introduced an initiative titled "Gender Equity in Jails Across America," which has also been adopted by the Department of Justice-National Institute of Corrections. He is the recipient of several honors from various organizations, including the prestigious Legacy Award from the Association of Women Executives in Corrections. As an advocate for the mental health community, he created a cabinet-level position in his administration titled, “Chief of Mental Health Services,” and hired a licensed psychologist to fill the role.
Sheriff Diggins is a Certified Correctional Executive through the American Correction Association (ACA), where he is also a former auditor, former commissioner, and the past-chair for ACA's Commission on Accreditation for Corrections. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Colorado and a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology from Metropolitan State University of Denver.
A formal approach meant to promote collaboration between the community and the Denver Sheriff Department – was created in 2017. Learn more about the board's goals, members, and meetings.
About the Sheriff Advisory Board
The Sheriff Advisory Board (SAB) was created in 2017 to serve as a formal community engagement mechanism to promote collaboration with the Denver Sheriff Department (DSD) regarding matters that span service delivery to people incarcerated in DSD custody, their families, the community at-large, and service providers.
The goals of the board are to promote advisement and set priority area(s) of focus to the Sheriff and Department regarding:
- Best practices within the Department to ensure safety to staff and those in our care and custody,
- Exhibiting a strong organizational culture of leadership and engagement, and
- Advocating to build and foster strong relationships within the larger Denver community, particularly for individuals reentering, including better access to mental health supports and alternatives to jailing.
The Board consists of members representing Denver’s diverse communities and geographic areas. Ex-officio membership roles will be identified on an ongoing basis, and will include department staff, city staff, and additional subject-matter-experts.
SAB meetings are currently on hold. We will provide updated information regarding meeting times and locations as soon as the information is available.
Anastacia Rodriquez, Chair
Rodriguez is the Director of Testing at the Community College of Denver. She has been involved in higher education for 17 years and currently oversees placement testing, professional certifications, and academic testing. She is former board chair of cityWILD, a Denver nonprofit providing tuition-free outdoor experiential education to young people. She has a masters-level of nonprofit management certificate in social justice, peace and reconciliation and a M.A. in adult education and training from Regis University, and a B.A. of arts with honors in English and writing from the University of Colorado.
Andrea Borrego, Co-chair
Dr. Borrego is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology at Metropolitan State University. She has research interests in policing, neighborhoods and LBGT victimization. She wrote a chapter for the book Forensic Science and the Administration of Justice, worked on grant funded studies and presented numerous academic papers. She has a PhD in criminology and criminal justice from Arizona State University, having completed her dissertation on fatal police-citizen encounters.
Alfonso Suazo currently serves as a Business Development Specialist for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless Vocational Services division. After leaving his position with the Southwest Daily Times newspaper group, he returned to Denver to serve as a Marketing Specialist for Denver's human resources agency, Career Service Authority. With over ten years in human resource and communications, he ventured out to share his cumulative experience with non-profit agencies such Servicios de La Raza, Goodwill-Denver and Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. Suazo has a degree in Marketing from Metropolitan State University of Denver. He has also received the MSUD Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Award.
Carleigh Sailon is a licensed clinical social worker and a licensed addiction counselor with Mental Health Center of Denver’s Crisis Intervention Response Unit (CIRU), which includes the co-responder team and several other forensic programs. She works as the assistant program manager of CIRU and is the clinical supervisor for the forensic branch of the unit. She also teaches Crisis Intervention Training to both the Denver Police and the Denver Sheriffs and is an adjunct professor in the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work. She has a B.A. in Sociology from Long Island University - CW Post Campus and a Masters in Social Work from Stony Brook University.
Tramutola-Lawson is Founder and Chair of the Colorado chapter of Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), which advocates for humane treatment of inmates. In 2007, she was appointed to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Community Corrections and is a current member of the Denver Community Corrections Board. In 2015, she was appointed to the Governor’s Executive Clemency Advisory Board. She has a B.A. in elementary education and an M.A. in French. She was a teacher for Denver Public Schools for more than 30 years and developed an interest in prison reform after working with at risk students.
La Toya Petty
Petty was the former Director of Development and Communication for Families Forward Resource Center, and is a community activist in the Montbello and Green Valley Ranch neighborhoods. In addition to sitting on the Board of Directors for the Family Resource Center Association, she is an active member of the NAACP Denver Branch and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She worked as a substitute teacher with Denver Public Schools before becoming an English teacher and curriculum developer in South Korea. She has a master’s degree in non-profit management from Regis University and a B.A. in general studies from Colorado Christian University.
Reverend Leon Kelly, Jr.
Reverend Leon Kelly Jr. serves as the Executive Director of Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives, the oldest anti-gang program based in the Denver Metropolitan Area. He has been a member of the California Gang Investigator’s Association for over 25 years, and has developed a program in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Corrections called “Flippin’ the Script.” In 1979 he served prison time for drug-related charges at the Colorado State Penitentiary and received a full and unconditional Pardon from Governor Bill Ritter in 2010. He has acquired his educational degrees from the University Of Colorado, Colorado Christian College, Family Bible Institute, and the Denver Urban Institute.
Contact & Requests
For questions, a sign language or Spanish interpreter, please send emails to SAB@denvergov.org. Requests for interpreters should be made at least five days prior to the meeting.