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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyJanuary 16, 20183min4655

Despite reforms, the Denver Sheriff’s Department’s management of the city jail system remains a “quagmire,” an activist group says. That’s why Denver County taxpayers should have the power to elect their sheriff.

Denver is one of only two Colorado counties that doesn’t elect its sheriff; the mayor makes the pick.

Over the weekend, the Colorado Latino Forum launched a May 2019 municipal election ballot initiative campaign to make the Denver County sheriff an elected official. It says it has the support of business leaders, jail reform advocates, neighborhood organizers, faith leaders and others.

“The Denver Sheriff Department, the largest jailing system in the region, is a quagmire of rising assaults, inadequate inmate services, low staff morale and failed leadership,” campaign Co-Chair Lisa Calderon said in a statement. “Despite a three-year reform effort and tens of millions of dollars paid out for consultants, settlements, and skyrocketing overtime pay, Denver taxpayers have had enough of local politicians using the general fund as a blank check without a return on investment.”

The sheriff’s department has been dogged by controversies in recent years. In the fall of 2015, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock appointed Patrick Firman to the helm at the Denver Sheriff’s Department to reform the city’s jail. The appointment came on the heels of a consultant’s review of the department that found deep excessive force and mismanagement problems. Most recently, critics have pointed to news that overtime spending has cost the department millions, signaling continued struggles. The department has completed about 70 percent of the recommendations from the consultant review.

The Colorado Latino Forum said an elected sheriff would be more accountable, operating independently of political influence, much like the city auditor and clerk and recorder. The group argues as a political appointee, the sheriff is only accountable to the mayor, operating without transparency.

Voters “deserve real reform by electing an independent leader with the power to make sweeping changes to improve public safety, reduce costs, expand inmate services, increase staff morale and build public trust,” Calderon said.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoySeptember 29, 20173min711

Denver hasn’t been shy about its resistance to the White House’s bellicose stance on immigration — i.e. a travel ban; President Donald Trump’s threat to withhold federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities, and the promise to end a program, unless Congress acts, that provides protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

In late August, the Denver City Council and Mayor Michael Hancock agreed on a new policy which prohibits city employees from cooperating with federal immigration authorities and provides other protections for undocumented immigrants in Denver, Colorado Public Radio reports.

During a signing of the policy, Hancock urged the president to “leave our DACA children alone,” Westword reports, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program started under President Barack Obama. It shielded children brought to the U.S. illegally from deportation for two years and allowed them to legally work. Hancock also noted the 17,000 Coloradans protected under DACA.

Though the future of DACA is uncertain, over the fall, Denver will reach out to immigrants with a series of clinics to help DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants.

The clinics will educate interested parties on renewing their DACA status, answer legal questions and provide legal services and offer information on immigration and citizenship.

The city said the clinics are sponsored by local immigrant advocacy organizations including the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Colorado Latino Forum, and the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association. Prominent Denver law firms will provide council at the meetings on citizenship and immigration. No registration is required and all of the meetings will be held at a local Denver Public Library.

Find a full list of meetings here and here.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningFebruary 15, 20178min846

A House Republican took a Democratic colleague to task Wednesday for calling him “half Latino” as the debate over sanctuary policies for undocumented immigrants simmers at the state Capitol. Saying he wanted to talk about “a matter that affects the dignity of this chamber,” state Rep. Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs, took to the House microphone near the end of morning announcements to “call attention to the insensitive words that were spoken about me” during a discussion about pending legislation concerning sanctuary policies.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyAugust 11, 20165min329

Denver officials are close to strengthening a civilian police watchdog agency by adding it to the city’s charter. The Office of the Independent Monitor, primarily made up of lawyers, serves as civilian oversight agency for the Denver Police and Sheriff's Departments by participating in police investigations of misconduct and making recommendations on department policies including on discipline and broader issues like use of force. The city’s Governance and Charter Review committee unanimously approved the measure Aug. 3, sending it to the City Council to discuss Monday. It will be considered for a final vote, and be the subject of a public hearing, Aug. 15.