CrimeHot Sheet

Many complaints against some candidates for Denver police chief

Author: Adam McCoy - June 18, 2018 - Updated: June 18, 2018

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In this 2014 file photo, police recruit cadets graduate at the Denver Police Training Academy. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)

Denver has trimmed a pool of dozens of candidates vying for the helm at the Denver Police Department to five.

As Denver Police Chief Robert White announced in April he would conclude his law enforcement career after 46 years, the city began the process of finding his replacement.

Westword reports the names of five finalists for Denver’s top cop: Commander Michael Calo, Commander Joseph Montoya, Commander Paul Pazen, Deputy Chief David Quinones and Commander Ronald Saunier.

White joined Denver in December 2011 after serving as police chief in Louisville, Kentucky, for nine years. During his time in Denver, he came under public scrutiny over whether he was too supportive of then-President Barack Obama’s push for gun control, and for telling officers to stand down while a police memorial was vandalized during a protest on police violence in 2015.

Additionally, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock recently announced White wouldn’t be punished regarding two internal affairs cases.

Westword rounded up all complaints and disciplinary records lodged against the finalists:

Of all the candidates, Calo has the largest number of complaints — 30 — lodged against him both internally and from citizens, though he was cleared of any wrongdoing in several of them. Five complaints came from citizens alleging inappropriate use of force, but only one, dating back to 1987, was substantiated and resulted in formal discipline. Calo has been disciplined twelve times since he joined the DPD in 1984, all of which resulted in oral or written reprimands. What’s most revealing is that eight of Calo’s substantiated complaints were for failure to obey traffic regulations; most of these have occurred since 2010.

Pazen comes in second, with 21 complaints lodged since he joined the department in 1995. Of those complaints, only eight were substantiated and resulted in formal discipline. Pazen has also been disciplined for use of force and failure to obey traffic regulations; he received an eight-hour fine for a failure-to-shoot citation in 2001. It’s worth noting that Alex Landau, who made headlines after he was brutally beaten by Denver police in 2009, has spoken highly of Pazen’s interest in national community policing models to reduce violent crime.

Read the full Westword report here.

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.