DENVER (CBS4)– The man who is in charge of the Denver Sheriff’s Department knows he has a tough job and is willing to take on the challenge.

Elias Diggins is a 20-year veteran of the sheriff’s department who was born and raised in Denver’s Montbello neighborhood.

Diggins will take over the sheriff’s duties on an interim basis as the department searches nationally for a permanent replacement.

Diggins has been named interim Denver Sheriff just one week after the former sheriff, Gary Wilson, stepped down amid controversy over allegations of excessive force inside the Denver Jail.

Former Sheriff Gary Wilson, right, and Elias Diggins, left (credit: CBS)

Former Sheriff Gary Wilson, right, and Elias Diggins, left (credit: CBS)

“It’s a challenge, it’s a challenge because there’s an image that’s been portrayed of this organization that is really the actions of a few,” said Diggins.

Those allegations include several instances of deputies beating inmates, some of which have been caught on camera.

Most recently, former inmate Jamal Hunter has been involved in a civil lawsuit with the department after a 2011 incident in the jail left him permanently scarred.

The city is moving forward with a multi-million dollar settlement with Hunter.

“We’re looking at our policies and procedures, we’re looking at the well-being of our staff, we’re looking at everything from top to bottom,” said Diggins.

Earlier this month, the department placed two deputies on administrative leave after an investigation into inappropriate use of force while booking an inmate. Deputy Thomas Ford is accused of inappropriate force in a 2011 attack on an inmate, and Deputy William Lewis is accused of writing an inaccurate report related to the incident.

Elias Diggins (credit: Denver Sheriff's Department)

Elias Diggins (credit: Denver Sheriff’s Department)

Diggins said it’s hard for him to see the department’s image overshadowed by a few bad deputies.

“It’s a tough job every single day. It’s a tough job to be Denver Sheriff but we have a few folks in our organization that need to have their buttons reset. That need to really understand that as public servants what we are here to do is to treat people humanely and with dignity,” said Diggins.

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