DENVER — Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen updated the Citizen Oversight Board on Wednesday about his implementation of 16 recommendations to improve his department's handling of protests.
The 16 recommendations came in a report that found the department failed to appropriately respond to unrest in the city during protests following the death of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020.
"Communication is key to all of this," Pazen said in the meeting. "People are demanding to know what their police department is doing. We need to make sure we are listening and sharing what changes are taking place."
He explained, point by point, what changes are being implemented based off of the 16 recommendations in the report. The city is enforcing all field officers wear body cameras, regardless of rank. Several less-lethal weapons are also being removed from the police arsenal, including rubber ball grenades. Police must also provide more warning and time to protesters in illegal gatherings before they are forcibly dispersed.
"We are committed to training our officers. We are committed to looking at what tools are effective. We are looking into what kinds of strategies work on this," Pazen said. "This department considers itself a learning organization, and we are taking all 16 of these recommendations and implementing them just as we are looking across the country in order to improve as a department."
Citizens Oversight Board president Al Gardner shared his concern that, outside of the 16 recommendations, he wants to see a culture change at the department.
"Ensuring that the culture in the department is on par with the diverse, diverse culture of the city," Gardner said. "That's not necessarily in the recommendation. But at the end of the day, it underscores importance in and underscores how each one of those items came about."
Scrutiny on culture in DPD comes amid new tension with police and calls for racial justice in Minnesota as the country awaits the trial verdict for the former police officer who killed George Floyd.
"I expect the community to want detailed information, even regarding the verdict with George Floyd," Gardner said. "What's being prepared for that? And then how do we how do we handle those situations?"