LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – The city of Loveland has hired an independent consulting firm to review its police department following the violent arrest of a 73-year-old woman with dementia. Karen Garner was confronted by Loveland police in June 2020 after leaving a Walmart without paying for $14 dollars of merchandise.
Video of the arrest went viral with community members calling for greater police training and accountability. Many Colorado law enforcement agencies have added police training on how to interact with people living with dementia.
Loveland awarded a $152,500 contract to public safety consulting firm Hillard Heintze to conduct an independent professional standards investigation regarding Garner’s arrest. The review will also evaluate Loveland Police Department policies, practices and procedures.
“Engaging in an independent review of this incident is an important step to ensure trust and credibility in our police practices,” said Loveland City Manager Steve Adams. “Accountability is essential and we feel the urgency to move forward with this experienced consulting firm to better understand how to move forward.”
Hillard Heintze was hired by the Louisville Metro Police Department following the death of Breonna Taylor. The firm also assessed the the city of Minneapolis’ response to protests after the murder of George Floyd.
Officials in Loveland say the independent review of Karen Garner’s arrest will take about two months to complete. After that, the firm will work with the city on an independent assessment of current practices, which is expected to take about 3-4 months.
“This independent assessment offers the men and women of the LPD a chance to highlight our strengths and learn more about our opportunities for growth,” said Bob Ticer, Loveland Police Chief. “I fully support this process and have pledged to cooperate with the City in any way necessary to ensure the assessment team has access and insight into what’s needed to thoroughly satisfy the objectives of this endeavor.”
Community members can also weigh in on the review in a series of community forums planned later this summer. Officials plan to announce dates and times for the forums soon on the city’s website.