Manager of safety: Denver Police Department's bad reputation is slowly changing

Official says DPD faces public relations problem

DENVER - Denver's manager of safety tells 7NEWS after years of unethical behavior, the police department is finally on its way to restoring public trust. It comes after a decision by the Civil Service Commission on Tuesday to not rehire a cop fired for lying.

Manager of safety Alex Martinez believes the Denver Police department is turning a corner after suffering from a tarnished reputation.

"The officer lied to internal affairs," said Martinez. "And, that should result in termination, and it has."

Detective Jay Estrada was on the Stapleton hit and run case that resulted in a pregnant woman losing her child in 2010.  Martinez said Estrada twice denied receiving a tip in the case and was fired.

But, a hearing panel reinstated Estrada.

"In short, they spun wildly out of control in a confused legal reasoning," said Martinez.

It took nearly two years for the firing to be finalized. A lengthy, convoluted process that has plagued the DPD.

"These cases aren't that complicated," said Martinez, a former Colorado Supreme Court justice. "And it shouldn't take a year-and-a-half to figure out if the manager's decision was right or wrong."

"We've cut that timeline in half," he said. "So we'll be doing this at twice the speed basically."

It's just one example in a series of cases that caused public outrage.

"But there's a big difference between corruption and what we have encountered in Denver," said Martinez. "We don't have that here.  What we have is a public relations issue."

Martinez said this case could be the first notable step signifying real change in the department, which he said starts with the new chief, Robert White.

"His values are similar to mine, in that of transparency, that of integrity and that of the willingness to take a look at the whole organization."

Martinez said there has been a complete restructuring of the DPD. Officers have had to reapply for their jobs, and flattened command has put more officers on the streets and in neighborhood substations, including detectives.

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