Denver is planning to hire and train 200 candidates for the sheriff department by the first quarter of 2017, assuming the mayor's budget plan is approved.
Mayor Michael Hancock's proposed 2016 budget includes $24 million in new spending for the Sheriff Department, which has been under the microscope since an expensive series of legal settlements in abuse cases and the unceremonious exit of the last sheriff. Included in that proposed spending is $5.25 million to fund new hiring, training and salaries for the recruits. Another $1.6 million would purchase equipment for three academy classes, background checks and the cost of the training space.
Also included in the budget proposal are funding for learning management software in the academy and ongoing crisis management training for deputies during their first year of employment.
Those new deputies assigned to the County Jail and the Downtown Detention Center can expect to work in a new 10-hour system, based on the reviews being conducted by the city.
According to a statement from the Denver Department of Safety, the push to fill vacant deputy positions and also hire nine deputies for new positions is only one part of the hiring plan. They'll also work to hire four new, senior investigators for the internal affairs bureau and fill four positions within the data analytics division.
Over the last several years, the Denver Sheriff's Department has been plagued with issues ranging from excessive force causing death or injury, to theft by a top commander and allegations that the former second-in-command lied and gave preferential treatment to a captain accused of domestic violence.
Hancock ordered a review of the department in 2014 after a string of excessive-force cases embarrassed the department and cost the city more than $9 million in legal settlements and lawyers' fees.
The review, by Hillard Heintze, found problems at almost every level of the Denver Sheriff Department and discovered 14 key findings and created 277 recommendations for change.
The group also recommended that Denver hire a new sheriff from outside the department. A search began in July.
Other items in Mayor Hancock's 2016 budget proposal:
- $1.4 million to purchase additional body cameras for Denver's police force
- $7.1 million for the city’s transportation system investment
- $8 million for affordable housing to create hundreds of new units
- $5.5 million for the new Solutions Center and the expansion of homeless shelter space and $2.9 million for permanent supportive housing
- $3.6 million for 51.5 new child welfare employees, after several Denver Human Services errors led to the deaths of children last year
- $2 million to increase staffing in the Department of Community Planning and Development