Using the strongest language yet in his campaign for Denver mayor, Doug Linkhart told 7NEWS that, if elected, he would fire Police Chief Gerald Whitman.
Linkhart's comments were made during a Thursday taping of "On The Record" with CALL7 Investigator Tony Kovaleski. "On The Record" is a special series by 7NEWS including one-on-one interviews with each candidate for mayor of Denver. The interviews include questions by 7NEWS viewers and will air in their entirety beginning April 15.
During Thursday's taping, Kovaleski asked, "Given recent high-profile cases involving Denver police officers, what, if any, changes do you think need to be made to the discipline process with the Denver Police Department?"
"As mayor, I'll fire two people, one of them is going to be the chief," said Linkhart.
"Whitman's out?" asked Kovaleski.
"Whitman's out. Nice guy, but he hasn't towed the line in terms of the discipline process. We need a chief who can follow the discipline matrix that Al Lacabe put together, and I helped work on that. We need a chief who puts discipline into the department to the degree that dishonesty and excessive force is not tolerated. We need zero tolerance," said Linkhart.
The second person Linkhart mentioned is a Denver police officer involved in another disciplinary matter, but Linkhart did not give the officer's name.
In recent weeks, four Denver police officers have been fired for dishonesty -- lying on official reports -- according to city officials. However, in each case the discipline took more than a year, a time frame highly criticized by the city's independent monitor and several candidates for mayor.
In one case, two police officers were seen on video beating a man during an arrest.
The CALL7 Investigators were first to air the controversial video that led to a political firestorm that included the resignation of the city's manager of safety. Initially, the two officers were suspended and fined for the incident and the police union believed final discipline had been imposed, however, the new manager of safety, Charles Garcia, fired both officers shortly after taking over the job.
Through his spokesperson, Whitman has said he will not comment on political statements made by any candidates for mayor.
"The chief has a job to do and that is his focus," Lt. Matt Murray told Kovaleski.
Other candidates for mayor including James Mejia, Theresa Spahn and Chris Romer have indicated they would replace Whitman, but until now, Linkhart is the only candidate to publicly and definitively say he'd fire Whitman, by name.
In December, Mejia told the Denver Daily News, A new mayor has an opportunity to bring in a new police chief. Thats an important step because I think that the police chief has a great deal of latitude in terms of addressing issues before they become problems.
In a November profile in Westword, candidate Michael Hancock said the department needs to rebuild its trust with citizens, but "Hancock stresses that he has no interest in making Denver's current police chief, Gerald Whitman, a scapegoat for every negative police incident in recent years," wrote Michael Roberts.
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