The big changes that Denver Police Department's new chief Robert White vowed to make when he was sworn in look like they are finally taking shape. In an announcement made Tuesday, White began a realignment process that shakes up DPD's current structure, streamlines, and in some cases, eliminates some senior officer positions and aims to get more officers on the street, according to a DPD press release.
Some of the key changes include the expansion of Commanders in the department to 11, up from seven currently. Civilians will be replacing officers fully or partially in 12 different units including photo radar, court liaison, computer crime, inventory control, and crisis intervention team. The rank of Division Chief will be completely eliminated as will be the entire Complex Investigations Unit.
According to The Denver Post, White will also boost the number patrol officers on the streets by as many as 70 men and women over time and budget permitting. Some of the new patrol officers would come from reassignments from within the department as well as hiring some civilians to handle jobs currently handled by cops.
When White was the police chief in Louisville, Ky., he says that almost 80 percent of his officers were working the streets, according to 9News. Currently only about 48 percent of DPD's force is on the streets and White's goal is to get to about 70 percent.
White is also putting some of the force's top jobs up for grabs, forcing commanders to reapply for their job if they are interested in keeping it. "If they have interest in their job, all of them will have to reapply," White told 7News. "Some of them are doing a great job, so I would imagine that they would probably fair well into the process."
All six district commander positions are open for new candidates and prospective candidates will be selected by a panel of 13 residents that is selected by City Council members. With two less deputy chiefs, the commanders will have more power than they have had in the past due to less administrative oversight in how they decide to use their resources and officers in their divisions.
Chief White also eliminated two of four deputy chief positions and named two new deputy chiefs in the process -- Division Chief David Quinones will be promoted to the position of Deputy Chief of Operations and Captain William Nagle will be promoted to the position of Deputy Chief of Administration.
So, is this realignment a step toward the culture change, more accountability and transparency that DPD has needed or is it just a rearrangement of the deck chairs? It will take time to see what this means for the force and the public, but as Westword points out, Chief White does seem legitimately dedicated to transparency and has not remained cloaked inside of department headquarters. White actually took the time to meet with the Occupy Denver protesters about their eviction concerns, although it proved to be unproductive. Westword also reports that White even made an appearance at last weekend's "F*ck The Police" rally.
For a full look at the new DPD overhaul, take a look at the organizational chart released by the Denver Police.
You can also listen to a podcast of Chief White talking about the new direction of the Denver Police Department at the Denver city government website.
WATCH Chief White talks about the new Deputy Chiefs selected: