One of the fundamental rights of being human, of being American, and of being a Denver citizen is the right to be safe and to be treated justly. It’s so obvious, it barely needs to be talked about. But a safe and just city is also so important that we must not only talk about it, we must make safety and justice for all a priority for Denver.
Our normal, daily activities mean we are dependent on one another for our safety. Most of us don’t get to choose when we go to work. We have to rely on others to keep the roads safe, to obey the speed limits, to stop at red lights. We take it for granted that we all obey the laws, and that the laws are there to protect us.
We all tend to watch out for one another, and we all understand, at some level, that the ways we interact are critical to our safety, our quality of life, and our futures.
And, we can do better. We all have roles to play in keeping Denver a happy, safe place to live and work, and we want to make sure those roles are working to protect us. There is a role for police, for sure. There is also a role for citizens and oversight boards. There is a role for jails, certainly. There is also a role for intervention, various education and treatment programs, and prevention.
We will not ignore issues of unconscious bias and racism that have plagued cities and police departments around the country, including cities in Colorado. No one should live in fear because of the color of their skin, but these sorts of prejudices persist. They are well documented, and can have lethal consequences, and no one wants that. Denver police officers are professionals who have chosen very difficult work, because they want to help people and make Denver a safer place to live. We need to make sure they have the training they need--and this includes training in overcoming unconscious bias. We need to address this problem and make sure we address it from every angle.
Therefore, as your mayor, I commit to:
● Appointments of respected professionals to our safety departments, and collaborative relationships between all to ensure coordinated goals
● Strengthening of the Office of the Independent Monitor to ensure transparent opportunities for community input
● Review of policing policy, police training, and police relationships to neighborhoods and the city in general
○ Procedures keep officers and the public as safe as possible
○ Policies that support positive interactions of neighbors, of law enforcement and community
○ Procedures that address unconscious bias and help dissipate that tendency
○ Policies that are equitable
○ Policies that maintain Denver’s reputation as a place of fairness, of peaceful living, of safety and of support for a thriving economy and high quality of life
● Review of collaboration between police and community to increase safety, improve relationships
○ Involve residents, small business owners, civic groups, institutions early and often (neighborhood safety committee)
○ Establish trust--always respect (includes acting on/implementing feedback in due time, includes regularly scheduled meetings and routine and de-escalated interactions, not just in times of crisis)
○ Know who is affected by but not represented in the collaborative process and find them a way to participate
○ Help community engage in and own the solutions
● Diversion from incarceration for non-violent offenses
○ Review cash bail system with an eye to ending it
○ Investigate the ironic intervention--where the payment for infraction is in the infraction itself (fireworks violator must volunteer with fire department, etc.)
○ Policy changes to end the practice of all offenses being jailable
○ Expand the mental health co-responder program
○ Re-institute the homeless court which helped keep homeless out of jail rather focusing on service
● Reinvest in the rights of offenders
○ For those who have paid the social penalty for offenses, look for ways to aid/speed rehabilitation and reintegration
○ Explore restoring voting rights for rehabilitated felons
● Engage in city-wide discussion of guns, gun control and youth issues
● Engage in city-wide discussion of gang issues
○ Partner with community groups like GRASP, Homies Unidos, Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives
○ Invest in trade-education - turn gang members into entrepreneurs
● Long term strategy for cannabis
○ True expungement of cannabis-related convictions
○ Credible policy for social clubs/lounges with same standards as alcohol
○ Explore and address DUI policy as it relates to cannabis, et. al. with guidelines from alcohol
○ Involve neighborhood citizen councils and interest groups, including law enforcement, in this planning
● Engage in city-wide discussion of drug dealing
○ Explore decriminalization of cannabis
○ Explore diversions from incarceration for non-violent offenses