No, hell hasn't frozen over. Yes, you read that headline correctly. The ACLU is right…for once. The Department of Justice (DOJ) should investigate the Denver Police Department (DPD) for the massive and seemingly neverending stream of cases of police brutality.
Michael Roberts of Denver Westword explains:
The ACLU hopes feds will fill the vacuum [left by departing Independent Monitor Richard Rosenthal].
How? By encouraging the Department of Justice to look into the Denver Police Department's activities.
"Last May, the ACLU of Colorado wrote to the Department of Justice and asked it to investigate Denver law enforcement," legal director Mark Silverstein writes via e-mail. "We continue to urge the DOJ to come to Denver."
Denver Independent Monitor Richard Rosenthal, in his final report cited by Roberts, says that bias in the Internal Affairs Bureau is causing "substantial problems in the way the Denver Police Department is currently policing itself."
Coming on the heels of news that Denver just paid out another $1.3 million in 2011 to settle claims of police brutality, the ACLU's call for a DOJ investigation of DPD is exactly right.
Reports The Denver Post's Tom McGhee:
Denver paid $1.34 million in 2011 to settle lawsuits that alleged police used excessive force, only the second year since 2004 that the total substantially topped $1 million.
Last year also accounted for the largest payout since 2004, when the city settled the fatal shooting of Paul Childs, a mentally disabled teen who died after confronting an office with a knife.
The fact these cases keep coming up is a cause for more than concern, it's a cause for a significant and serious review of the DPD itself.
Mayor Hancock hasn't done much about it.
He completely ignored the topic entirely of police corruption in his State of the City address, despite it being at the forefront of many resident's minds.
As Denver ranked #1 in the country in 2010 for excessive force complaints, you would think it would be a top priority for DPD and the Hancock administration. That they haven't done anything to deal with it is astounding.
It's also, unfortunately, not surprising.
Hancock has been an incredibly tone deaf mayor, hosting posh getaways for his staff in Beaver Creek at a donor's mansion on the taxpayer's dime, was unreachable during the Occupy Denver fracas, tried to ban recording devices from press briefings, and is spending a million dollars more on his political appointees' salaries than Hickenlooper did in his first year, just to list a few examples.
With Hancock unable to control his police department and the police unwilling or unable to police themselves, it's time the Department of Justice stepped in.
Oh, what strange bedfellows Mayor Hancock's incompetence creates! Conservatives are actually calling for Attorney General Eric Holder's department to step in.