DENVER (CBS4) – Instead of making arrests, too many Denver police officers have been getting arrested lately.
That’s the opinion of Denver Police Chief Robert White, who told CBS4 he is working to improve the culture within his department when it comes to addressing alcohol abuse and the legal troubles that can sometimes result from it.
There have been seven arrests of Denver officers since January and six of those involved alcohol. Three DUIs involving officers also came to light on Thursday. All three of those took place earlier this year.
The most recent arrest incident took place on Monday night at the Adams County home of Daniel Diaz Deleon, a detective. He was arrested in an apparent domestic dispute that included gunfire. Alcohol was seen as a factor.
Before that, Officer Jeremy Ownbey was taken into custody for alleged assault, trespassing and child abuse after a reported swingers party that got out of hand.
There was also the case of Officer Michael Ryan, a vice narcotics officer whose job involved stopping prostitution. He was arrested after allegedly picking up a prostitute.
Chief Robert White said the department is taking action.
“We do have a responsibility to address what appears to be a recent increase in alcohol abuse by some of our employees,” he said.
White said alcohol is too often a crutch for dealing with a difficult job.
“Given the stress of what police officers do and sometimes when they are looking for relief they will use the alcohol as a relief factor and sometimes that certainly manifests itself to the point where it becomes unhealthy,” White said.
In the past, officers have been reluctant to self-report their alcohol problems because they have been referred to internal affairs and had to undergo a physical suitability test. The chief says that will stop.
“We’ve got to do a better job in creating an environment where officers feel comfortable in self-reporting,” White said. “Hand in hand with that is we have to create an environment where their coworkers feel comfortable in reporting an officer in crisis.”
White says the department has peer support groups and they can guide the officers to treatment.