Denver Police Chief Robert White made plain Tuesday that it will not be business as usual in his department — announcing the replacement of two top cops, the elimination of an entire layer of senior administration and plans to reassign some or all of the commanders in the city's six districts.
White, who was sworn in last December, also plans to increase the number of commanders from the current seven to 11.
Gone will be the rank of division chief, currently held by four senior officers.
He will boost the number of officers available to patrol the streets by as many as 70 men and women, but that will happen over time and depend on the department's budget. White said he would move those new patrol officers into the divisions by reassigning some members of specialized units, such as the gang bureau, and hiring civilians to handle some jobs now held by cops.
The changes will increase accountability, make the department more responsive to residents and improve its ability to fight crime, White told the City Council's Committee on Public Safety in an afternoon meeting.
"This reorganization will absolutely, unequivocally put us in a position to be more efficient, more effective, more responsive to the citizens in our community," White said.
Over time, it also will save money, he added.
The pace of the rollout will depend on the money available for the department's budget. The realignment will begin at the end of March, with White's appointment of new district commanders.
He hopes to have up to 30 new officers on the streets not long after the commanders are in place.
The present district commanders can reapply for their jobs, but it is likely that some, if not all, will be replaced.
"We have a lot of talent on the police department from the rank of lieutenant and above," he said.
He asked that each City Council member submit the name of one member of their community to sit on a selection board that will pick 12 candidates from the applicants for district commander.
"I sincerely believe, wherever it is possible, the decisions we make we should have some involvement with the community," White said.
Because council members represent that community, White added, "I thought it would be appropriate to ask them to provide someone who would be interested in doing that and that could represent their constituents."
White, who will provide the board with a job description for the positions, will then select six of the candidates to fill those slots.
"I am pleased to see the level of community involvement," committee chairman Paul Lopez said.
White also named two deputy chiefs Tuesday — David Quinones, who had been division chief of patrol, and William Nagle, who had been acting division chief of research. Quinones and Nagle also will sit on the board, White said.
The previous deputy chiefs and four division chiefs will return to their civil-service ranks — such as captain — and will have the opportunity to apply to be commanders.
"It is an effort to flatten the organization. ... Flattening the organization gives us an opportunity to hold people more accountable for what they're doing," White said.
Commanders will have more power than in the past to control the way they use officers and other resources in their divisions, and they will report to the new deputy chiefs.
Nick Rogers, president of the Denver Police Protective Association, said he welcomes some change.
"I trust that these changes will be beneficial to the citizens and detrimental to the criminals," Rogers said.
Current District 6 Cmdr. Tony Lopez said he would reapply for his job.
"We are going to get the best and the brightest to compete for these coveted roles, and that is a benefit for our city. In 29 years, I have never seen such an exciting time. This is a fresh perspective," Lopez said.
Tom McGhee: 303-954-1671 or firstname.lastname@example.org