In the midst of more serious repercussions for misconduct, are officers with the Denver Police Department laying low, avoiding citizen contact whenever possible? The Denver Post suggests fear of discipline may be driving lower contact numbers across the city, though the union says there’s “no organized work slowdown.”
John Bronson, a member of the Denver Police Protective Association’s (DPPA) board says that some officers are afraid a situation could escalate and lead to discipline and that this fear may be causing more officers to choose the path of least resistance, avoiding officer initiated contact when possible.
Police respond to citizen calls and they also make contact of their own initiative. In 2009 the DPD recorded 80,226 officer-initiated contacts. In 2010 that number was 74,399. In the first six months of 2011, the number of officer-initiated contacts has fallen to 67,054. The drop isn’t being seen in all districts but is most pronounced in District 1 of northwest Denver.
Since March, nine officers have been fired in disciplinary actions. The new disciplinary procedures being enacted across the city are in an effort to clean up the department, which has received media coverage and the attention of the Justice Department for allegations of brutality and civil rights violations.
But the fear of getting in trouble isn’t the only thing likely driving the drop. There are fewer officers on patrol, leading to less time for the officers to initiate investigations and contact. Though the number of officers only dropped from 1,462 in January of this year to 1,434 this month, the drop still makes a difference and because of a hiring freeze, that number isn’t expected to go anywhere but further south.
If the officers are avoiding contact for fear of discipline, it’s a sad situation indeed. The father of Michael DeHererra, beaten by Denver police, said to the Denver Post, “We are not asking them to quit doing their jobs, just do it right without violating people’s rights and beating them down.”
The majority of arrests and criminal charges are a result of citizen calls. Occasionally an officer will initiate such an investigation. More often than not, however, officer-initiated contacts are proactive or positive in nature, for instance discussing safety measures with business owners or checking on homes when the residents are out of town.
When you are on the other side of the handcuffs, it likely doesn’t matter to you whether or not you were arrested because of a citizen call or an officer initiated investigation. What matters when you are facing criminal charges is how you handle them. And a local defense lawyer can help.
Whether you are charged with drug possession or assault, a criminal defense lawyer knows what options are available to you and how to best play your cards for the most positive outcome in court. If you are charged with a crime, contact our attorneys today for a consultation on your case.