Denver Police Retraining On Use Of Force Faulted In Lawsuit


In 1983, Denver District Attorney Norm Early was so alarmed by six deadly clashes between police and civilians in six weeks that he urged an overhaul of police training, says the Denver Post. Now, a federal lawsuit asserts that Denver’s retraining of officers remained deficient despite Early’s warnings. Until this year, the city did not consistently conduct annual retraining on such basics as when officers can resort to using force against suspects. That retraining is a requirement for accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, and is urged by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

A 2005 lawsuit on behalf of Frank Lobato, who was shot after an officer mistook a soda can for a weapon, argues that the city’s training standards were so inadequate they constituted indifference to the constitutional rights of Denver’s citizens. Police Chief Gerry Whitman, in a sworn statement in the case, said, “There are, unfortunately, significant cost implications for [] retraining in a department as large as ours, which employs approximately 1,400 sworn officers.” It’s training that other police departments do, including those in Seattle, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Phoenix, and Austin, Tx.


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