DENVER (CBS4)– Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday named Elias Diggins, a 25-year veteran of the Denver Sheriff Department, to be the new sheriff, guiding nearly 800 deputies.
“What I believe we need to do is insure we remember our humanity in our work”, said Diggins, 47, and a married father of five.
Most recently, Diggins was the department’s Operations Chief.
In appointing Diggins to lead the agency, which runs Denver’s jails, Hancock said, “I wanted someone who genuinely understood the job day in and day out.”
In an interview with CBS4, Diggins said he planned to take his first month as sheriff and talk to deputies and staff members about their morale and challenges they face, along with talking to inmates and community members.
Diggins made it clear he was well aware of the numerous incidents of excessive force that emerged from
DSD in recent years, some leading to multi-million dollar payouts.
Asked how he would address that, Diggins noted that he knew the department needs to “re-earn trust that has been broken.”
“I want to infuse more humanity in what we do,” he said, noting that deputies need to remember that the inmates in their custody are someone’s mother or brother or relative.
In naming Diggins sheriff, Hancock noted Diggins is “someone who appreciates the value and power of second chances.”
In 1996, Diggins was charged with a felony for attempting to influence a public servant. He admitted lying to a judge about an insurance issue following a car crash. Diggins later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge.
But the issue recently resurfaced when Diggins was issued a “Brady letter” in May, which is a letter prosecutors provide to defense attorneys acknowledging a member of law enforcement may have previously had issues with truthfulness.
Diggins said the delay in issuing the Brady letter was due an administrative issue within the department.
He is also currently the subject of an internal affairs investigation within his own department related to his interaction with a mother whose son was in jail.
He told CBS4 “I am not able to talk about that case” since it was open and ongoing.
Manager of Safety Murphy Robinson told CBS4 he became aware of the internal affairs investigation during the hiring process.
He said after being briefed on preliminary facts of the case, he was “completely comfortable” with Diggins moving forward as a candidate for sheriff. Robinson said while he was precluded from saying much about the case, it involved Diggins “exhibiting a human trait.” Robinson said he hoped the case would be wrapped up soon.
Diggins is slated to take the reins of the department July 27 and his annual salary is set at $194,476 per year.