Independent Monitor Charter change goes to Denver voters

DENVER — The Denver City council unanimously approved sending the Independent Monitor charter change to the November ballot Monday.

The Office of the Independent Monitor is the civilian watchdog agency that oversees reviewing excessive force and other allegations against the Denver Police Department and the Denver Sheriff’s Department.

The effort comes in the wake of protests nationwide following police-involved shootings across the country.

“The climate around the country is tense,” said Alex Landau, the co-founder of the Denver Justice Project, a grassroots group that supported the bill, sponsored by Councilman Paul Lopez.

“This office is the only independent entity that the community has to rely on in the investigation process, making recommendations on how officers should be disciplined.”

The office currently exists under a city ordinance, with no guarantee of funding. Supporters of the bill want to put the office in the city charter, making it more permanent and harder to change.

“There needs to be a system of accountability and this a piece of that system that we want to strengthen not risk losing,” Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, the Executive Director for the ACLU in Colorado.

At a council committee meeting August 3, 2016, current Independent Monitor, Nicholas Mitchell, expressed support of the effort.

The Denver sheriff’s Department expressed their support of putting the initiative on the November ballot.

The Denver police union, known as the Denver Police Protective Association, expressed its opposition.

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Voters will see the charter change on the November ballot. If they do vote to put the Office of the Independent Monitor in Denver’s charter, only a vote from the people could then remove it, according to councilman Lopez.