On a spring Monday afternoon in 1964, US Attorney General Robert F Kennedy told the United States Conference of Mayors, “Progress is a nice word we like to use. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.”
“Bobby” Kennedy said these words exactly six months after his brother, President John F. Kennedy’s, funeral. Four years later, while running for the Democratic nomination for president, Senator Robert Kennedy would also be shot and killed. Change has its enemies.
I do not believe in change for the sake of change. But I DO believe that change is necessary. Until we work in a perfect place, where no one makes mistakes, then we must work to change and improve.
Many of you have heard that the Denver Police Department has undergone substantial change since my arrival in 2011. That is true. But again, these changes were implemented because they were necessary, not because I like changing things. They are all designed to create a police department in the best position to prevent crime. But most importantly, they are weighed against the question, “What is the right thing to do”?
Remember who we work for
On April 8, 2011, the Denver Post Editorial Board opined about the community’s desire for change in the police department and what that change should look like. They wrote (in part):
Action in several areas is needed: The police disciplinary process must be streamlined. The city must have a strong, independent voice in the safety manager position.
That, in conjunction with a police chief who will voice clear expectations about unacceptable behavior and consequences, will go a long way toward improving the situation.
In July of 2011, Police Protective Association board member Sgt. John Bronson told the Denver Post, “People have opinions whether the choice (for the new police chief) should be inside or outside but are excited to have it be a change. There is anticipation that a new chief will bring fresh ideas.”
But the most important voice was that of the people of Denver. And they wanted change. They wanted a police department who was accountable to them. One that enabled them to be a part of the decision making process. It wasn’t just about crime, and it wasn’t about the perception of systemic brutality, it was ultimately about respect. And respect is very important.
I can tell you that without respect, mutual respect, we cannot effectively prevent crime. So respect is a critical component of the current changes.
And it is the right thing to do.
Denver Police – What has changed and why
In the upcoming weeks, I will be detailing the major changes that we have made. I will explain the change, why it was needed, and the result. As always, I appreciate your feedback.