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Exclusive: Denver's new Public Safety Director Troy Riggs wants reform in the sheriff's department

Riggs lays out plans in first interview
Posted at 5:30 PM, Feb 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-16 20:46:56-05

DENVER -- During his first week as Public Safety Director, Troy Riggs assembled teams to address reform at the Denver Sheriff's Department. Riggs isn't one to wait around and informed staff he would be moving at a brisk pace as he begins his work overseeing 4,400 public safety employees and a $540 million budget.

He replaced Stephanie O'Malley who left the post after four years. As public safety director, he will be in charge of the city's police department, fire, sheriff and 911 operations.


Riggs established two teams that will review overtime and the disciplinary process. He wants the sheriff to address reforms and move to a more proactive approach. 

"Quite frankly I’ve talked to the sheriff’s department, I feel like it’s taken them too long on their reforms and they agree but they have a new plan in place, we’ve been working through it," said Riggs.

Problems inside the sheriff's department and jail have been well documented. Violence and inmate deaths have resulted in suspensions and multi-million dollar payouts, but despite pledges to fix the department those issues have persisted. Riggs promised a new level of accountability not only for the sheriff's department but his office as a whole.

"That's a promise, that's something that's important to me," said Riggs. "Citizens have a right to know what's going on, they invest $540 million in public safety."


Data-focused policing will be a priority for Riggs. So far, Denver is on pace for a potentially violent year. The city has recorded 16 homicides including two officer-involved shootings. Riggs is studying the spike to determine is it's part of a trend. 

"I think it’s a little too early to tell but it’s certainly something we need to be extremely concerned about and we have seen some weaponry, we’ve seen some gang members, it’s things we have to pay close attention to," said Riggs.


It's also not a secret that he has close ties to Denver Police Chief Robert White, he served as his deputy chief and chief of staff. He will oversee the investigation into Chief White and Deputy Chief Matt Murray and will call for a complete review once it is finished.


Riggs previously worked in Indianapolis where he was public safety director and later served as the police chief. Before moving to Denver, he was employed at an institute where he researched crime in America's 50 largest cities. 

He's originally from Louisville, Kentucky, where he was a police officer and assistant police chief.

Riggs said he's had his eyes on Denver for some time now and was hoping a job would open up. 

"That’s what I love about Denver, what I’ve seen and I’ve been out to numerous community meetings - people are very civically minded, they're engaged and they’re willing to roll up their sleeves and get busy and help," said Riggs.