Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has been handed a difficult challenge in the myriad problems facing the Sheriff’s Department. But despite the level of difficulty involved, if the examination of the problem isn’t done just right, it’s only going to get worse.
As if the record amounts being paid out in lawsuits and reports of dozens of inappropriate non-violent actions by other deputies weren’t enough to make headlines. Now the process of the investigation itself is becoming news.
First, Latino leaders left the task forces that are looking into the problems, calling the committees political window dressing.
Then former Denver Safety Manager and Deputy Mayor Butch Montoya said that he believes that the U.S. Department of Justice should get involved with what’s going on.
And finally, on Thursday, the mayor denied the request from the City Council to place one of its own on the executive steering committee.
Each of those problems would cause enough controversy alone. But for all three to occur in a just a few days does not bode well for both the process and for Mayor Hancock.
I understand that taking on an issue like this was always going to be fraught with problems and pitfalls. But even the most pessimistic pundits wouldn’t predict this many issues so quickly.
Mayor Hancock is likely not to face a serious challenger in his re-election bid next spring. But, that course of easy sailing is not 100% guaranteed.
If things continue to go poorly on the Sheriff’s issue, it wouldn’t be shocking to see an enterprising political newcomer throw their hat into the ring.
I don’t mean to boil this down to just a re-election issue, but this shows how many arms and legs this issue has grown and the kind of damage that it could bring.
Hancock should not underestimate the role of the City Council on the Executive Committee. By denying them a seat at the table, Hancock has handed them a clear way to criticize any idea that comes out of the task forces.
Not every potential solution is going to be easy to support, and having the City Council’s backing could be key to implementing difficult or controversial solutions.
The problems plaguing the Denver Sheriff’s Department are vast and sadly more interwoven to the culture of the department than previously assumed. Solving this will require a lengthy process and innovative ideas.
While you cannot please everyone all of the time, there are only so many groups of civic leaders that you can alienate and still come up with a plausible and practical solution.
If Mayor Hancock wishes to authentically solve this problem, at some point, how the process is being handled must be looked at more carefully.
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– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.