(CBS4) – After a summer of protests in downtown Denver and calls for police reform, the city joined a task force to address changes moving forward. Months later, the Denver Department of Safety says Denver police officers will stop attending those meetings.
The Task Force to Reimagine Policing and Public Safety started after the Black Lives Matter protests eight months ago. Now, Denver police officers and the Department of Safety have pulled out of the community-led effort. The purpose of the task force was to create dialogue, and eventually provide suggestions for the City of Denver to consider when it comes to policing policies and criminal justice.READ MORE: Denver Weather: Cooler Temperatures Settle In Quickly
“The voices of the police officers, and the public safety personnel on the committee, have been silenced,” said Denver Department of Safety Director Murphy Robinson. “We were hoping that it would be representative of the community, but it wasn’t.”
Robinson says involvement with the task force no longer makes sense, after Department of Safety officials and DPD officers felt their opinions and perspectives on policing and criminal justice were not considered as part of the community conversation.
In an email to the task force, Robinson says Denver police officers were recently uninvited to participate in a community meeting about changes to policing.
“The last straw for me is when an email came out to my staff that asked them not to even attend the last meeting that they had because they felt that police officer attendance would be traumatizing,â Robinson said. âHow can we have a hard conversation if we’re not able to attend?”
Task Force Coordinator Dr. Robert Davis emailed a response when the Department of Safety said it would no longer participate in community meetings.READ MORE: Children's Hospital Colorado Served As Largest Enrolling Site For Pfizer COVID Vaccine Trial For Children Ages 5-11
âWe wanted to have a conversation about how police reform looks, how we progress through this, and what are the various frameworks that people are operating from,â Davis said. âFor that one conversation, we asked law enforcement not to attend so that it could be a community conversation, and we were excited to have the police officers back after that meeting.”
Robinson says that wonât be happening anytime soon.
“We will no longer attend the task force as a member of the task force, because frankly we were never a member of the task force,â said Robinson. âWe will not be on the task force as arm candy, essentially what was happening was we were asked to sit in on the meetings, and we were not able to participate.â
Davis hopes the Department of Safety reconsiders. He believes this is not the time for law enforcement to disengage with the community.
“For anyone to say, âI don’t agree with you, so Iâm not going to interact with you,â this is not the time in the City of Denver to do that,â said Davis.
“This is a time for all of Denver to unite together so that we can show this nation that Denver is the model for how community and law enforcement and public safety is supposed to be done.”MORE NEWS: Opening Statements Begin In Rogel Aguilera-Mederos Trial For 2019 Deadly I-70 Semi Crash
The Denver Department of Safety plans to unveil a new effort to engage the community in conversations and suggestions on criminal justice and police reform in the coming weeks. The task force, however, is moving forward with suggestions to Denver City Council and Mayor Hancock in March, even without input from the Department of Safety and Denver Police Department.