Denver Police Dept. pushes back on union president's Capitol Hill comments on sanctuary cities

Posted at 2:53 PM, Feb 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-16 16:53:49-05

DENVER – The Denver Police Department is distancing itself from comments made by the union president for the department Thursday on Capitol Hill, in which he said he felt less safe doing his job and worried he might be fired because of the city’s stance on working with federal immigration officials.

Denver Police Protective Association President Nick Rogers, a DPD narcotics detective, told a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee Thursday that the city’s ordinance “has had a chilling effect” on officers’ daily operations, and said, “We can no longer call and share information with ICE.”

Further, he said, the ordinance had created, in his opinion, “a city that is much less safe than it was prior to the ordinance.”

Rogers was invited to speak at the committee hearing by Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., a member of the committee who has been sympathetic towards Rogers’ stance in the past, when he spoke out against the immigration ordinance when it was still a proposal.

But the police department issued a stern response Friday to Rogers’ committee comments.

“Rogers was not representing the Denver Police Department and Rogers’ statements do not reflect DPD’s philosophy or practice,” said the news release from the department.

It further said that it “does not support his statements,” that the city’s ordinance “clearly encourages” participation with DHS and ICE, that ICE has access to federal databases that show who is in Denver’s custody, and that the ordinance specifies that local law enforcement resources aren’t used in civil immigration enforcement.

“Contrary to previous assertions, there is no special penalty for employees who violate this specific ordinance. It is the same for violating any ordinance,” the release said. All the points were meant to correct what the department said were untruths told by Rogers.

Rogers claimed Thursday that just because federal database information was available to federal officials didn’t mean they knew how to look for it.

Under the ordinance, city employees are prohibited from collecting information on people’s immigration status and from sharing that information for the purpose of federal immigration enforcement.

It also requires the Denver Sheriff Department, which runs the city’s jails, to continue notifying ICE of pending releases “to the extent they are able.”

“The Denver Police Department does not think this new Denver City Ordinance negatively impacts our ability to enforce the law in any capacity. A person’s immigration status is irrelevant in taking enforcement action with regards to criminal activity,” said DPD Chief Robert White in a statement.

He further said that he and the department had found that the ordinance “helped to solidify the relationship between the police department and Denver residents.”

“It encourages people from all communities to actively participate as partners in the fight against crime by providing cooperation and information, which then helps us to take enforcement actions against those who engage in illegal activity.”

The Justice Department has threatened to withhold federal grant money from so-called "sanctuary cities," and the city has been in a battle for police grant money after being accused by the Justice Department of being a sanctuary city.