On Monday, Robert White was officially sworn in as Denver's 69th police chief and vowed to make big changes in a department that has been plagued by police brutality charges.
The Denver Post reports that White told the crowd at his swearing-in ceremony, "We will be a better department than we have ever been... this is a good Police Department, but we are going to make it a great Police Department."
The city of Denver has faced an onslaught of challenges resulting from excessive force from its police officers recently. Back in June, the city's excessive force suits resulted in over $1 million in settlement fees. A high profile police brutality case against Randy Murr and Devin Sparks for an arrest gone awry in downtown Denver is still ongoing, their reinstatement has been postponed, and it's still uncertain if the pair will get their jobs back.
Then just in early December, former safety manager Al LaCabe, gave a scathing assessment of police culture in Denver in which he described the roughing up of suspects as acceptable in the Denver force.
After all the controversy, Mayor Hancock believes White is the man that can restore public trust in the Denver Police Department, 7News reports. White is only the second person from outside the department to be picked to be chief and perhaps that outsider status will help him make the changes he wants -- one of which is simply holding officers accountable for their behavior. White said that by holding the police accountable for their actions, correcting mistakes, and also supporting officers when they do the right thing, will help the community to respect the department.
White also understands that he has to earn the community's respect and trust, himself and he intends to start by spending a lot of time outside of his office, according to 9News. "You will see me everywhere," White told 9News. "I'll be in churches. I'll be in community groups. If they invite me I'll be there. Sometimes if they don't invite me, I'll be there." White said that the plans to also pay a visit to the Occupy Denver site.
Robert White comes from the Louisville Metro Police Department in Kentucky and believed that during his tenure as police chief there his policing initiatives helped foster a mutual respect between the community and officers, but also admitted to some mistakes including what he felt was not spending enough time reaching out to the rank-and-file officers, according to WFPL.