Denver police officers have reduced the number of investigations they initiate on their own, a slowdown some attribute to unhappiness over a move toward stricter discipline of cops in trouble, the Denver Post reports. Last month, when Safety Manager Ron Perea resigned under fire for what were perceived as lenient discipline decisions, officer-initiated investigations dropped by nearly 25 percent from August a year ago, a decline of nearly 4,500 incidents. In the last week of the month, as the controversy over a police beating captured on video became more intense, such police activity was down nearly 33 percent from a year earlier.
The drops can’t be explained by a crime wave that would have left officers with less free time. Citizen-initiated calls for help declined slightly from a year earlier, meaning officers should have had more time – not less – to start investigations on their own. “I”ve heard from officers that there is concern about the complexity of the discipline process and the fact that some investigations have been reopened,” Police Chief Gerry Whitman said. The decline in officer-initiated actions should prompt concern, said George Kelling, a crime-fighting strategist who in 2006 advised Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper on a data-driven overhaul of the police force. “You want a high level of self-initiated police activity for people doing minor (criminal) activity,” said Kelling. “When you cease to do that, you send out the message that you don’t care. The theory is that people will then carry out more and more minor criminal activity and more major criminal activity as well.”