A Department Steeped in History
The Denver Sheriff Department (DSD) has been around for almost 120 years! This department was established on December 2, 1902, at the same time as the City and County of Denver. The department provided security for the courts, court-related services, and the county jail. Today, the DSD continues to perform these duties, but many more have been adopted.
The Denver Sheriff Department currently oversees and provides services for several facilities, two of which are jails: the Denver County Jail and the Downtown Detention Center (city jail).
The Denver County Jail we know today opened in 1956, having demolished much of the original jail, and has undergone many changes over the years. Current housing units accommodate direct supervision pods and are used for the long-term care and custody of inmates.
In 1951, deputy sheriffs began overseeing the city jail, relieving police officers for street duties. Deputy sheriffs were supervised by police commanders until 1968 when the responsibility shifted to sheriff officials.
Initially, the city jail was located on the fourth floor of police headquarters and eventually moved to the Pre Arraignment Detention Facility (PADF), which served as the main booking facility until the new Downtown Detention Center (DDC) opened in 2010. The Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center, known locally as the DDC, is named after Denver District Attorney, Phillip Van Cise, and Denver's longest serving undersheriff of 18 years, Louis John Simonet.
The DSD differs from other sheriff departments in several aspects, including how the sheriff is instated. Rather than running in an election, the sheriff is appointed by the Denver mayor. And, unlike other counties, Denver does not have a statutory undersheriff. In 2013, the title of sheriff was given to the executive head of the department. Denver does not have a statutory undersheriff as in other counties.
The sheriff department is joined by the police department, fire department, the 9-1-1 Combined Communications Center, Public Safety Youth Programs, Community Corrections, and the Gang Reduction Initiative (GRID) under the Department of Safety (DOS) umbrella. Under the guidance of the Executive Director, who is appointed by the city's mayor, DOS provides management, discipline, human resources, administrative support and policy direction to public safety services.