Change – Part 1 – Executive Staff

Part I – Executive Command

When I came to Denver, there were seven levels of management (five at the executive level alone).  Although this structure allowed for numerous promotional opportunities and career advancement, it also created red-tape and reduced accountability.  Therefore, one of the first significant changes we made was to “flatten” the management of the police department.



Chief (1)

Chief (1)

Deputy Chief (2)

Deputy Chief (2)

Division Chief (4)


Commander (7)

Commander (12)

Captain (17)

Captain (14)[i]





We eliminated the rank of Division Chief and are eliminating the rank of Captain through attrition.

Flattening the rank structure pushed both authority and accountability to the Commander rank.  This allows important community decisions to be made at the police district level.  It also means that Commanders are held accountable for issues within their commands and communities.  Now crime prevention strategies can be quickly implemented and tailored for the unique needs of a community.

Commander Selection Process

It is very common for new executives to build their own executive staff after they begin their tenure.  This is true in sports, business, and police departments.  However, we felt that in the case of the Denver Police Department, the most critical executive positions (District Commanders) should come from a process that had substantial community involvement.  The officers they command are directly accountable for providing safety in the various communities.  We felt it was important to include the community’s voice and representation in the District Commander selection process.

We invited Denver’s City Council members to either sit on a panel, or appoint someone to sit on the panel for them, and to interview and select a group of twelve candidates they approved of as District Commanders.  Once they provided that list, I selected six Commanders from that group.   

We have now operated under the new structure for over a year.  It is much more efficient and Commanders are empowered to make decisions regarding their areas of responsibility, has resulted in some great benefits.  Officer productivity has increased substantially as a result of this and other management changes.  Violent crime is down 14% and calls for police service are down 12%.

As we begin to improve our staffing through the 110 new police positions approved by the Mayor and City Council for 2013, you will see further evidence that the new strategies are working.

Chief White

[i] The Captain rank is being eliminated through attrition.  It will be at least 40% lower by Jan 2016.

This entry was posted in From the Chief, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Change – Part 1 – Executive Staff

  1. Jane Sikes says:

    Chief White, I’m impressed with the progress you have made and are continuing to make in making the Denver Police Department more effective and cost-effective. Thank you for what you are doing.

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