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Chief of Police Robert C. White to Retire

Search for Next Police Chief Now Underway

DENVER – After more than six years of leading the Denver Police Department, Mayor Michael B. Hancock today announced that Chief of Police Robert C. White will be retiring, and will officially depart from his role upon the appointment of the next police chief.

“On behalf of everyone in Denver, I want to thank Chief White for his dedication to our city and his distinguished service over these past six years,” Mayor Hancock said. “Through his great work, he has firmly established a legacy of building strong community relationships and a police department better equipped and prepared to keep our neighborhoods and residents safe, and I wish the Chief all the best in his much-deserved retirement.”

Chief White was sworn in as the 69th Chief of Police for the Denver Police Department on December 12, 2011. Over the next six years, under his leadership, the Denver Police Department underwent numerous organizational and policy improvements that have positioned the department to better serve and protect the residents of Denver:

  • Reorganizing the department’s management structure, civilianizing positions where appropriate and redrawing the boundaries of the city’s police districts to improve efficiency and meet the needs of Denver’s growing population, ensuring the highest level of safety in Denver’s neighborhoods.
  • Heightening safety in downtown Denver/Police District 6 and along the 16th Street Mall, including assigning more patrol officers to the district, operating a Mall kiosk staffed with Volunteers in Police Service midway at Skyline Park, training the Mall ambassador team to improve education and communication on safety, dedicating police officers to walk the Mall during the summer, increasing bikes patrols on Cherry Creek Bike Path, and introducing Segways on patrol downtown.
  • Modernizing officer training to include adult education best practices and a focus on officer wellness, resiliency and physical therapy, and enhancing the city’s recruitment of new officers to meet the needs of a growing city.
  • Re-writing the departments use-of-force policy to emphasize de-escalation tactics, and developing a demographic data collection program to help determine whether or not certain populations are being contacted by police officers at disproportionate rates.
  • Adopting new technologies to enhance officer and public safety, including body-worn cameras for both on- and off-duty officers, a state-of-the-art training simulator, and Denver’s use of cutting-edge gunshot detection technology to help address gun violence.
  • Enhancing interactions with vulnerable residents, including creating a unit focused on crimes against at-risk adults, teaming patrol officers with mental health professionals through the co-responder program, partnering with multiple agencies at the Rose Andom Center addressing domestic violence, establishing an officer liaison to the LGBTQ community and expanding the Volunteers in Police Service program.
  • Enhancing relationships with residents to build trust and encourage an open dialogue on issues facing the city through community forums and events, positive youth contacts, outreach to immigrant communities, and a robust social media strategy to build trust and encourage an open dialogue on issues facing the city and to help with crime prevention.

“It has been my honor to serve the people of this great city and this department of truly exceptional officers and staff. And I want to thank Mayor Hancock for allowing me the opportunity to strengthen the department and its bonds to the community. It has been an incredibly challenging and rewarding six plus years that I will forever be grateful for and proud of,” said Chief White.

During his six years Chief of Police, Chief White established a deep bench of leadership and skilled management within the department, and candidates for the next Chief of Police will be limited to current and retired members of the Denver Police Department. A search committee selected by Mayor Hancock will be formed to identify candidates. In addition, four community forums will be held, and an email address set up to gather to community feedback on what Denver residents are looking for in the next Chief. The search committee will review community feedback and candidate submissions, and advance candidates to the Mayor and Executive Director of Safety Troy Riggs. Following the interviews, Mayor Hancock will select his appointment.

Current and former colleagues shared these remarks:

“Nationally recognized as a leader on matters of public safety, Chief White has been an asset to Denver and our neighbors. His retirement, while well-earned, will leave a void in our community,” said City Council President Albus Brooks.

“The Denver Police Foundation was saddened to hear about Chief White’s planned retirement. Under his visionary leadership, the Denver Police Department has implemented a number of progressive programs that will benefit the dedicated men and women in the department, as well as the Denver community, for generations to come.  Chief White’s retirement marks the departure of a great representative of Denver and a good friend to its citizens. While the Denver Police Foundation and I are sorry to see him leave, we thank Chief White for his service and wish him and his family the very best going forward,” said Christian Anschutz, Board Chair for the Denver Police Foundation.

“In my 30 plus years of dealing with youth issues and gang violence in Denver, I have seen a lot. The last six years have been the most encouraging in addressing these problems, and that is due in large part to the leadership and guidance of Chief Robert White. Chief White has been very supportive of many of the community efforts for reform, inside and outside the Denver Police Department. His willingness to work to level the playing field has impressed me; he is definitely at the top of my list of innovators for police change.  Most importantly, while I commend what he’s been able to do as the police chief, I have also been privileged to know him as a husband and a father. His ability to balance work, home, and spiritual life is an inspiration. Thank you, Chief White, for all the work you have done for our great city of Denver,” said Reverend Leon Kelly, Executive Director, Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives.

“Chief Robert White’s legacy will be that he left the Denver Police Department a substantially better organization than when he arrived. He sent Denver officers across the country to learn about best practices in policing, and to share information about the cutting-edge work being done in Denver. He opened up the department to change and innovation. Some of these changes were easier than others, but that is the challenge facing all reformers. Chief White wasn’t afraid to challenge conventional thinking, and the Denver Police Department is better for it,” said Chuck Wexler, Executive Director of the Police Executive Research Forum.

“RC White was one of the most important mentors in my career; and to some extent, in my personal life. Back when I started in policing there were not many women to mentor new officers; RC never made a distinction when it came to mentoring. He mentored everyone he felt had potential and inspired others that probably didn’t have the potential until they worked for him. You don’t find many people like him in policing or any profession for that matter. Sad to see him retire,” said Cathy L. Lanier, Senior Vice President, Chief Security Officer for the National Football League, and former Chief of Police, Washington DC Metro Police Department. 

“When we merged our City and County police departments, after a national search, I selected Chief White to create a new department from the two former public safety organizations. Chief White was a change agent that melded the best of both departments and gave the citizens of Louisville, KY an enhanced public safety organization. Chief White is a man with unquestioned integrity, passion for his officers as well as the citizens they serve, outstanding communication skills, and a great listener. He was a leader who focused his leadership skills on community service, social awareness, and setting a clear tone that officers and citizens alike should be treated fairly, held accountable for their actions, and appreciated for their diverse views and perspectives. Chief White is one of the finest human beings I have ever met in my career in Public Service,” said Jerry Abramson, former Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky and former Mayor of Louisville, KY.

Before becoming Denver’s Chief of Police, Chief White was the Chief of Police for the Louisville Metro Police Department in Louisville, KY. He began his career in law enforcement in 1972 with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. A more detailed bio detailing Chief White’s nearly 46-year law enforcement career can be found here.