Denver's Police Chief Robert White worried about alcohol abuse among officers

DENVER - Alcohol abuse is a common thread in several recent incidents involving Denver police officers, Chief Robert White said Tuesday while announcing plans to make changes within the department.

After alcohol was involved in six incidents this year, White says he wants to create an environment in which officers can feel comfortable reporting alcohol problems in their own life or the life of a coworker.

7NEWS has learned that three officers were arrested for driving under the influence so far this year. In April, Detective Michael Ryan was issued a ticket for allegedly soliciting a prostitute. Earlier this month, Officer Jeremy Cole Ownbey was charged with trespassing and two counts of child abuse after a brawl during a dinner party at the home of another DPD officer in Aurora. This week, Detective Daniel Diaz Deleon was arrested for false imprisonment and child abuse in Thornton.

The Chief has ordered a review of how his department handles reports of alcohol abuse among its officers. He wants changes to be in place this summer.

"By the end of summer, probably by the end of July, we're probably going to make some changes," White said.

Under the current rules, when an officer reports an alcohol problem, White says the Internal Affairs division is notified. The officer is also required to take a "fitness for duty" physical.

If White's new vision is realized, this process will change. He says he wants to remove it from the purview of Internal Affairs, unless the officer is also reporting they committed a crime.

"There's no tolerance for that," he said.

7NEWS Reporter Marshall Zelinger asked the Chief, "What role do you have as police chief in an officer's personal life?"

He replied, "My concern as it relates to an officer's personal life predominately is: how that personal life impacts his professional responsibilities?"

The Denver Police Officer's Foundation confirmed to 7NEWS that White had requested a meeting with their foundation and the Police Protective Agency regarding alcohol assistance. That meeting is likely to take place during the week of June 23 or later.

White said, "We do have a responsibility to address what appears to be a recent increase in alcohol abuse by some of our employees."

The foundation helps officers who need medical assistance and White would like to see them help with any medical co-pays for officers who self-report problems with alcohol. They support the idea.

Print this article Back to Top