Fifteen months after Denver Mayor Michael Hancock appointed Sheriff Patrick Firman as a “change agent” to reform the city’s jails, deputies see conditions as unchanged or even deteriorating.
Deputies say they overwhelmingly feel that the Sheriff’s Department lacks leadership, their training is inadequate, and jails are too crowded and dangerous, according to an internal report obtained by The Colorado Independent.
Half of those surveyed said they’re either thinking about or actively looking for jobs outside the department. The results come as city data is showing that, in the first six months of 2016, there were at least 65 assaults on staff by inmates and at least 85 inmate-on-inmate assaults.
City officials have declined to address the results or answer questions about conditions in a jail system long known for mismanagement and violence. Mike Jackson, president of Denver’s sheriff’s union local, says Hancock’s reform measures aren’t working.
“We have a sheriff who has no power reporting to a safety manager who flat out doesn’t make decisions. Nobody’s accountable and none of them seem to care what happens at the facilities until something bad happens. And something bad is going to happen. Mark my words.”
Colorado’s ethics watchdog has decided to proceed with a complaint against Republican Rep. Kim Ransom of Lone Tree for allegedly violating the state’s ban on gifts to legislators after she accepted a pass valued at $600 to last summer’s Western Conservative Summit.
The Independent Ethics Commission on Monday identified Ransom as the lawmaker named in the complaint, a rare acknowledgment that it has enough merit to investigate further. The commission does not release the names of elected officials or state employees against whom complaints have been filed unless it has decided to move forward. In its 10-year history, the commission has accepted few complaints for investigation and sanctioned even fewer lawmakers.
Last summer, the organizers of the Western Conservative Summit gave passes to 10 lawmakers, including Ransom, after each was recognized with an award for their conservative stances in the legislature. Not all accepted the passes, and those who did, sources tell The Colorado Independent, checked first with the state Office of Legislative Legal Services to make sure doing so would not violate the state’s 10-year-old gift ban.
The ban, part of the 2006 Amendment 41, says lawmakers, elected officials and state employees cannot accept anything valued at more than $59, a figure that is adjusted annually for inflation.
However, the law exempts the cost of admission to an event in which the recipient is a speaker or to which he or she has been invited to participate in a forum. Ransom listed the 2016 pass in a routine disclosure of gifts and honoraria that lawmakers file once a year. She told the Colorado Independent she had no comment on the complaint.
Charles Bucknam, a Parker resident, filed the complaint last August, about six weeks after the July 1-3 Summit. He asks that Ransom be charged with a misdemeanor and fined $1,000, the penalty for violating the gift ban.
Ransom is expected to file a response to the commission in March, after which the commission will conduct an investigation.
For more on these and other local news stories go to ColoradoIndependent.com
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