Police Commander Suspended For Crude, Inappropriate Language

By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4)– A top Denver Police Department Commander will be suspended without pay for 10 days after suggesting two subordinates who had a disagreement “get in a room by themselves and (expletive) each other until they figure it out.”

CBS4 has obtained a two-page department disciplinary action ordering that Commander James Henning, who oversees the Investigative Support Division, serve a 10-day suspension in February and March. Henning has been with DPD since 1989.

Henning is “genuinely remorseful” according to the letter and has taken “complete responsibility” for his conduct.

The incident took place Sept. 11, 2017 when Henning met with two employees to discuss an upcoming gang analyst position that was vacant. Henning learned that one of the employees was having a disagreement with another employee who not at the meeting about how to fill the position.

James Henning (credit: Denver Police Department)

“Frustrated with this situation, Commander Henning suggested that they get in a room by themselves and “(expletive) each other until (they) figure(d) it out.”

Henning remembered the encounter differently saying he said, “Maybe (they) should go (expletive) each other a little bit” until they could resolve their disagreement.”

During the internal investigation, Henning said the comment was not meant to be sexual “but was intended to communicate that they two employees should work their disagreement out. “

He admitted that “this was a terrible way to put it” and stated, “I’m ashamed of myself… I will apologize… she didn’t understand what I meant. It was a horrible way to put it. It wasn’t professional.”

Deputy Director of Safety Jess Vigil noted that Henning’s high rank was a significant factor in the discipline.

(credit: CBS)

“It is appropriate for the Department to have higher expectations for supervisors and command officers than subordinate officer. Supervisors and Commanders are expected to lead by example. They are responsible for holding others accountable and should likewise be accountable,” wrote Vigil.

Vigil said Henning violated a rule prohibiting conduct contrary to the values of the department.
“Commander Henning set a poor example by his conduct and was extremely unprofessional,” wrote Vigil.

He went on to say Henning has taken responsibility, has no prior disciplinary history and “has served the Department well.”

Henning will serve a five-day suspension next month and a second five-day suspension in March.

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

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