Denver Police considering using civilians to gather evidence at crime scenes www.privateofficer.com
DENVER CO Feb 29 2012 (WTW) — The Denver Police Department is considering using civilians instead of sworn officers to gather evidence at crime scenes as part of a major restructuring that includes the reassignment of two top administrators.
Chief Robert White said Tuesday that Operations Deputy Chief Michael Battista, who directed the planning for the department’s 2008 Democratic National Convention security operations, is being replaced by David Quinones, currently division chief of patrol. John Lamb, deputy chief for administration, is being replaced by William Nagle, an acting division chief.
White said he would find new assignments for Battista and Lamb.
Other changes announced Tuesday include the elimination of four division chief positions. Former Police Chief Gerald Whitman is a captain in charge of the department’s SWAT team and is not affected by the latest round of changes.
The restructuring comes at a time when the city is trying to increase public confidence in a department rocked by several high-profile excessive-force cases. Mayor Michael Hancock, who hired White from the Louisville, Ky., police department, said previously that the reorganization will save about $5 million a year.
“It’s an ongoing process,” White said. “This gets the resources out there, but once the resources get out there what we really need to do is have a relationship with the citizens where they’re more willing to work with us, and they’re more willing to work with us if they know us and they trust us and we treat them with dignity and respect.”
The Denver Police Protective Association, which represents officers, did not return a message seeking comment about the changes.
White said he wants 70 percent of Denver’s 1,445 uniformed police officers patrolling the streets, up from 48 percent. None of the changes will result in layoffs, White said after a City Council committee meeting where he outlined the changes.
The chief announced other changes, including the elimination of a unit that investigates complex crimes, as well as replacing officers with civilians in units that handle crime scene investigation, crisis intervention training, property management and computer crime units, as well as information desk posts.
Other changes include taking officers from centralized units that investigate assault, robbery, gangs and narcotics and placing them in patrol districts. Some 60 to 70 officers holding those positions will be affected, White told council members.
White previously announced that the public will have a say in choosing the city’s six commanders. The positions will be open to any officer with the rank of lieutenant and above, including commanders who currently fill those positions.
A selection board composed of community members chosen by the City Council will review applications, and White will chose his commanders on March 30.