DENVER (CBS4) – Denver’s incoming police chief says he is the perfect fit for the job. The city council peppered Robert White Monday with questions ranging from gangs to Occupy Denver.
The new chief doesn’t seem to be afraid to take on his critics.
“I think it’s absolutely critical that we’re transparent,” White said.
He said transparency and openness are his style. He also told city council he wouldn’t shy from controversy.
“Instead of saying, ‘No comment,’ you give an explanation whether it’s positive or negative,” White said.
White knows both. CBS4 has learned in 2005 he received a vote of “no confidence” from the police union in Louisville, Kent. where he was chief for 8 years and reportedly fired 25 officers.
“I want to build a relationship on respect, not a relationship on popularity,” White said.
He promised reporters he would be out front.
“When things are happening I’m going to be the guy who’s on the scene,” he said. “And when we’re right, I’m going to say that I think we’re right. But when we’re wrong, I’m going to say that also.”
But he wouldn’t say yet what he thought of Denver police and its response to things like Occupy Denver.
“I value people’s First Amendment rights, and I said that earlier, but they have to value everyone else’s rights also,” he said.
City council members like Albus Brooks liked what they heard.
“There are some folks in there who’ve abused their power and that needs to be addressed, and with this chief he’s got a track record,” Brooks said. “When I look at him and he speaks, I believe him.”
The city council is expected to approve White as the new chief by the end of the month.
CBS4 investigators have found White sued two media outlets and the Fraternal Order of Police when he was a police captain in Washington. He sued for defamation and invasion of privacy after it was reported White failed a drug test and tested positive for marijuana. White said it was a “false positive” and that subsequent tests vindicated him. White said he has never smoked pot, or even a cigarette, and has never had coffee in his life.