Tough Denver Cop Discipline Plan: “Presumptive Punishments”


After more than three years of debate, Denver is ready to put in place a get-tough police discipline system that will have swifter and harsher punishment for misconduct, reports the Denver Post. The Civil Service Commission is expected to sign off on the rule changes today. Nick Rogers of the Denver Police Protective Association said the union is upset with some last-minute tinkering and is contemplating legal action. The union fears the overhaul would give too much authority to the police administration and take away the autonomy of the commission, which is charged with ensuring discipline is meted out fairly.

Safety Manager Al LaCabe has pushed for the discipline overhaul for three years. He has argued that when he was appointed in 2002, he inherited an inefficient, ineffective and wildly inconsistent discipline system. The old system relied on past discipline decisions to determine the proper punishment of officers. LaCabe has argued that was a flawed system because it relied upon discipline decisions that might have been made by managers during more lenient police administrations. He added that it also created too much subjectivity, and that too often he could not understand the reasoning behind discipline recommendations the command staff made to him. The new guidelines call for “presumptive punishments,” with the ability to adjust upward and downward based on circumstances.


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