Denver Sheriff making changes by creating new work groups, new training & early warning system

DENVER - Changes are already in progress at the Denver Sheriff's Department.

Following a series of attention grabbing incidents that did not look favorable for the department, Sheriff Gary Wilson revealed his plan to create change within the department. On Tuesday afternoon, he told a committee of city council members about a new early warning system to stop problems before they occur.

"Essentially what this process is, it's designed to identify employees whose behavior or performance exhibits potential problems and need attention," said Wilson. "I'm very eager (and) looking forward to rolling out our new early warning system to hopefully deter misconduct, challenges in our department."

He told the council members about a new system that would identify specific "triggers" that would initiate intervention. Those triggers could include use of force or a grievance against the deputy or employee.

"If you have so many of those events, it will create a flag in our system which tells us that there's a need to look into this and be concerned and probably bring the officer in," said Wilson.

Last week, deputies mistakenly released Sebastian Littlejohn, an inmate facing felony robbery charges. Denver Police caught Littlejohn the next day. The sheriff said that an inaccurate court order led to the release of Littlejohn. His department is still investigating what happened.

Last month, a courtroom video from 2012 was released showing a deputy forcibly pushing a hand-cuffed inmate into a courtroom window. According to the Denver Post, that deputy received a 30-day suspension, but he is appealing that decision.

In April 2013, a deputy helped an inmate escape the Denver county jail. Deputy Matthew Andrews helped the inmate, Felix Trujillo, dress up like a deputy and walk right out of the jail. Andrews drove Trujillo to Adams County. Trujillo was free for three days before turning himself in. Andrews was arrested and was sentenced to six years in prison earlier this year.

On Tuesday, Wilson also talked about mid-level and senior management going through additional training. He also created a number of work groups to review discipline, policies and procedures and even stress.

From a funding standpoint, he said he wants to make sure he has enough deputies in place. He referenced that one deputy could be overseeing as many as 64 inmates.

"The Sheriff's Department is in need of a full review of staffing levels to ensure that we are at the right strength to do our job," said Wilson.

He also revealed that the county jail will install 180 new cameras by the end of the year.

"We believe this is going to increase safety, we believe this is going to increase security and we also believe it's going to also increase transparency in the department," said Wilson.

At the end of the meeting, committee chair and councilman Albus Brooks said he believed Wilson is "one of the best sheriff's in the nation."

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