New DPD Chief: Excessive Force Perception 'Deserved'

Robert White To Replace Outgoing Chief Gerald Whitman; Whitman Blames Media For Perception

New Denver police chief Robert White arrived in Colorado Saturday to meet with the mayor, City Council and the public he's about to represent.

"I will not disappoint you," said White. "Success is not based on what I do or what I say; it's actually based on the 1,400-plus men and women of our police department and the 600,000 residents that live in this community."

White, the police chief in Louisville, Ky. for the last eight years, believes he has an advantage by being an outsider.

"Decisions for me would be a lot less tougher than they would be for an insider because I don't have a history with any of these individuals," said White. "I can clearly make those decisions without necessarily being tied to how individuals are going to feel based on the relationship that we had."

White Used Google To Research Denver's Mayor, Police Chief

7NEWS confirmed White was passed over for chief jobs in Atlanta and Dallas. He said when he applied in Denver he searched online to learn about the good and the bad.

"If you want to learn about a city from a law enforcement perspective, two things you need to do: You Google the mayor's name and you Google the chief's name," said White.

A Web search of Denver and police revealed excessive force concerns, especially with multiple arrests caught on camera. White said it doesn't matter whether he believes there's a perception problem, if the public already thinks there's one.

"To some degree the perception is deserved. To some degree it's irrelevant if I believe that or not. There is a perception that there is one, so that has to be addressed," said White. "When you talk about the discipline as it relates to the officer, whether it is a reality or whether it is a perception, the bottom line is it's a problem and it's a problem that has to be addressed."

White: Changes Will Occur

Being hired from an outside agency, White said he'll bring a fresh eye to the department.

"With anyone new, inside or outside, there are going to be some changes," said White. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it; I'm not from that school. If it's 99 percent, it's my job to make it 100 percent. Wherever we are -- good or bad -- I have a responsibility to make us better."

The Denver city council must still approve White's $167,000 contract. Once he's officially hired, he plans to do a detailed analysis of the department.

"The first couple of months you will see and they will see a lot of me. I will be listening and asking a lot of questions that will help formulate the extent of the changes that need to be done," said White. "One of the things that I can assure that will happen is that we will be more transparent."

Chief Whitman Blames Media Coverage For Perception

7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger asked Chief Gerald Whitman about the media's coverage of the Denver Police Department. Whitman classified it as unfair.

"I'd say in a lot of circumstances, the coverage has been ridiculous by the media -- ridiculous," said Whitman. "You repeat the bad thing over and over and over and over again, to the point where the officers really don't trust the media. You guys can do a lot better to support this chief and what the image of the police department is."

Whitman told 7NEWS he's proud of this moment of change at the top of the department.

"We managed through three recessions, budget crises and the cops are still out doing a great job (and) crime's down," said Whitman.

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