Denver Sheriff orders ethics "refresher" after misconduct issues

Training includes reporting fellow officers

DENVER - Denver Sheriff Gary Wilson has ordered new ethics training for every deputy and supervisor, following a series of public misconduct issues.

New video was just released Tuesday of a Denver deputy helping an inmate escape last year.

Deputy Matthew Andrews has been sentenced to six years in prison, but that was just one of several high-profile problems at the department.

In December, the Independent Monitor found the department had failed to investigate dozens of complaints about alleged deputy misconduct, and Division Chief Michael Than resigned suddenly at the start of a misconduct probe.

This month, another deputy has been arrested. Paul Della Rosa is accused of plying young girls with alcohol.

"It is not widespread," said Major Frank Gale with the Denver Sheriff's Department. "Like any agency, there will be people who commit acts of misconduct. But we think we're defined more by how we respond to that kind of behavior than by whether or not people commit that behavior."

Gale said the revised in-service training will emphasize law enforcement ethics and raise awareness about unusual behavioral changes in fellow officers.

It will also stress that there are support services and resources available for officers dealing with stress or emotional issues.

The sheriff has also launched a task force to address concerns raised by the Independent Monitor's report.

"We are now looking at the process of how we handle grievances," said Gale. "And we are bringing online an early warning system to ID officers having emotional distress or high stress levels."

"The substance and the content of the misconduct itself is troubling, and it raises a second flag of what is there that we don't know that's going on," said Denise Maes, the Public Policy Director for ACLU Colorado.

Maes said the training is a good first step.

"There are certainly signals from the sheriff's department that they want to do more, so let's wait and see," said Maes.