Police chief, governor weigh in on Memphis beating

COS mayoral candidates give ideas for filling the CSPD ranks
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CSPD Chief Adrian Vasquez (Photo courtesy CSPD)

Over the weekend, the nation was sickened by video of the police beating of Tyre Nichols, 29, by members of the Memphis Police Department, five of whom have been charged with second-degree murder. Nichols was pulled over, pulled from his car and repeatedly beaten; when he tried to flee, he was beaten again. He died in a hospital three days later.

Chief Adrian Vasquez released a statement Friday regarding the release of body worn camera by the Memphis Police Department:

“Today, with many of you, I viewed the release of the body worn camera by the Memphis Police Department.

“I was horrified by what I witnessed. I want to offer my condolences, and those of everyone on the Colorado Springs Police Department, to the family of Tyre Nichols. We respect and honor Mr. Nichols’ family. They have called for justice and I appreciate that they are also calling for peace as their community works through this tragedy.

“While suffering an immense loss they have shown honor and grace. They have given the judicial system time to investigate and seek justice on Mr. Nichols’ behalf.

“Second, I want to emphasize that all police departments should be having conversations with our communities about what law enforcement looks like moving forward. This includes the Colorado Springs Police Department. The conversations we’re currently having regarding police use of force in our community focus on procedural justice, which is vital to building trust with the Colorado Springs community.

“It is healthy to have these conversations and we can disagree about some points but what is clear is the behavior displayed by the Memphis officers is appalling and indefensible. It cannot be tolerated by officers, by the judicial process, or by our communities.

“Let me be very clear, this tragedy never should have happened. I have faith that the judicial system in Memphis will seek justice for Mr. Nichols and his family.

“To my community, as Chief of Police I remain committed to emphasizing our dedication and service built on a foundation of fairness, impartiality, transparency, and ensuring all people have a voice. This pursuit goes on daily. I thank you for the trust you’ve placed in the Colorado Springs Police Department.”

Gov. Jared Polis (Photo courtesy State of Colorado)

Gov. Jared Polis also issued a statement: “Coloradans mourn with the Nichols family and the Memphis community during this difficult time. This incident is inhumane and appalling and our heart breaks for the senseless death of Tyre Nichols, no parent should have to experience what the Nichols family is going through. I appreciate the swift action by Tennessee law enforcement in the termination, investigation, arrest, and filing of charges against those involved, and hope that they are held accountable to the greatest extent of the law.

“Violence has no place in our country, state, and communities. As we heal together during this difficult time, we must live our values, and we should all treat each other with the respect and love we all deserve.”

“Americans need to be able to trust those who have chosen to protect them and serve their communities. Colorado has taken steps to work toward ensuring law enforcement is well-trained to prevent similar tragedies, and also accountable to the people they serve. Making Colorado one of the ten safest states over the next five years cannot be achieved without law enforcement building trust in the communities they represent. While there is more work to do to continue building this trust, I am proud of the community-driven, bipartisan initiatives being pursued here, including robust training supported by a public safety coalition and approved by the state legislature, and other measures to support excellence in  policing.”

Andrew Dalby

Police departments across the country have seen a slimming of the ranks in the last several years, brought on by retirements and people leaving their jobs after cultural clashes with Black Lives Matter demonstrators and legislative issues.

In Colorado Springs, the police department is short from 50 to 70 officers from its authorized strength of just over 800. So in our candidate questionnaire, we asked candidates running for mayor in the April 4 city election how they propose to fill the ranks.

Andrew Dalby: “Colorado Springs is uniquely blessed in this area.  We have thousands of military vets with adequate training and demonstrated willingness to put their lives on the line in service of their community.  Likewise, many private citizens have voluntarily completed POST (Peace Officer Standards & Training).  We also have the most cop-friendly citizenry of any large city in the nation.  We could fill the police ranks tomorrow if we could convince potential recruits that the job is worth having.  Even though the people of Colorado Springs “back the blue”, the city council has shown political cowardice.  Just last month they refused to defend a firefighter who was involved in a tragic accident which resulted in death.  Both council members running for mayor voted to throw the firefighter under the bus.  I am one of only two candidates who requested a ride along with CSPD and/or CSFD.  Neither of us are politicians.”

Sallie Clark

Sallie Clark: “Our community deserves to be safe and having a properly staffed police department is key.  One of my first priorities will be to engage our existing police department, learn what has been tried, and initiate new efforts.  Supporting our first responders is vital, as without retention, recruitment will be an ongoing challenge. Fostering an ethical, diverse, and thriving police department will help us recruit and retain officers.  One of the best sources of recruitment is other officers.  We must consider bonuses for officers who recruit peers, retention incentives, competitive pay and benefits in line with comparable cities, continuing education, and promotional opportunities.  We will ensure officers are supported by highly trained front-line supervisors, their chain of command, city council, and the mayor.  We will review and adopt successful strategies other police departments have used to recruit and retain officers.  Longer term, we will grow our own workforce through community outreach.”

Darryl Glenn

Darryl Glenn: “I will be personally involved in outreach efforts to improve public safety employee retention, recruitment, and community relations.

“There will be a renewed emphasis on arresting all criminals.

“I will lead a coalition to repeal legislation that makes it easier for people to commit crimes and legislation that creates personal liability for first responders lawfully performing their duties.”

Longinos Gonzalez Jr.

Longinos Gonzalez Jr.: “I believe public safety is always the first priority of government. People need to know they and their families are safe in their neighborhoods and their homes. I will address retention and recruitment by improving salary, addressing any morale issues if they exist, and getting them the training they need. My efforts will also include having the city host community public safety forums that will bring our law enforcement leadership and residents together that addresses concerns and builds trust so that our officers and our community feel greater pride in our department. An additional public safety issue I will correct is the slower than average call response time and dropped calls issues acknowledged by the previous Chief of Police.”

Kallan Reece Rodebaugh

Kallan Reece Rodebaugh:”Create innovative training programs. Colorado Springs should explore more methods of providing innovative and exciting training programs that motivate and retain current officers. Offer incentives or bonuses. Consider offering cash bonuses or housing for them to serve in Colorado Springs for a certain period of time. Develop a career path. Creating a career path that provides clear advancement options can provide officers with clear goals and expectations while making them more likely to stay in the department.”

Tom Strand

Tom Strand: “We must recruit and retain Quality, sworn Police Officers. That is Job # 1.  We need more than 70, we need 100 ASAP. We must strive  to make Colorado Springs the ‘safest City in America’.  I don’t believe it’s a matter of pay and benefits, but actively recruiting police officers from other Colorado cities and other major Cities; retain the good ones we have. We need to create an environment where parents and loved ones encourage their family members to join the CSPD, establish and create a two year CS Police College to attract regional young HS graduates and separating/retiring Military personnel, and encourage our community to ‘thank’ our police officers for their service whenever we interact with them.”

Williams: In the clear from recall.

File Photo

Wayne Williams: “Maintaining public safety will be one my top priorities as mayor. In my four years on City Council, we have provided funding for an additional 62 police officers. It is also anticipated that our city will need to add 200 more police officers by 2035 to keep up with our growth.

“Like most major cities, Colorado Springs has struggled to fill our available police positions, but we are making progress. We have moved to a continuous year-round police academy and are reducing the waiting time before a new class starts. As mayor, I will make sure that we’re competitive in the recruitment process, but we will always ensure our high standards are met.

“Most importantly, I will always ensure that our police, firefighters and other first responders know how much we appreciate them and respect their service.”

Yemi Mobolade

Yemi Mobolade: “The last three years have been tough for law enforcement. Improper use of force by some has positively resulted in greater accountability and better policing for all.  However, the political pressures have put undue stress on officers, leading to an unprecedented police shortage as many are quitting and retiring early.

“In addition to year-round academies, I will work to rebuild trust within the department by mobilizing partnerships to humanize the badge. I will invest in improving retention by allocating resources to provide our officers with the training, leadership, and recognition they need to boost morale and reduce burnout. I will personally be involved in bolstering our recruitment efforts to increase and diversify the current police force. I will actively work with local organizations to nurture the relationships of our police officers and the community members they serve, creating a climate of mutual respect and a shared vision of safety for all residents.”

Other candidates for mayor who have not yet returned Sixty35 news magazine’s candidate questionnaire are Christopher Mitchell, Jim Miller, Johnathan Tiegen and Lawrence Martinez.

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