Headlines Feb. 3, 2022
Another Denver Officer Suspended Over Excessive Force
Denver Public Safety officials say a third police officer was suspended for using excessive force during a peaceful protest against the murder of George Floyd. A disciplinary letter described how Officer Jesse Trudel used pepper spray twice without justification.
Trudel pepper sprayed a protester in the face. Moments later, he sprayed again as protesters heckled him and other officers. Trudel told investigators he feared for his safety and that he was under attack from rocks, bottles and incendiary devices. Trudel served a six-day unpaid suspension last month.
Two other officers, Diego Archuleta and Derek Streeter were suspended last year for violating the department’s use of force policy during the racial justice protests.
No Criminal Charges Filed In Amusement Park Death
A prosecutor says no charges will be filed against two workers at a Glenwood Springs amusement park where a six-year-old girl died last year. District Attorney Jefferson Cheney said that he could not prove that either worker acted with criminal negligence. The parents of Wongel Estifanos issued a statement saying that the DA and the amusement park treated their daughter’s life as quote “cheap and meaningless.”
The parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the park in October. They claimed that investigators say the two ride operators did not notice that Wongel was sitting on her lap belts when they began the Haunted Mine Drop ride. A Colorado amusement park licensing agency fined the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park $68,000 because the workers overrode a security alarm that warned of the seat belt problem.
The girl’s parents say they will go to civil court to prove their case. They allege that repeated recklessness and improper training led to their daughter’s death.
Denver Public Schools To Cut Jobs
Denver Public Schools aim to cut jobs in its central office as school enrollment declines. DPS Superintendent Alex Marrero said he will lower the size of the central office, freezing some vacant positions and reducing the number of executive-level positions. Colorado Chalkbeat reports that Marrero’s goal is to drive more district dollars directly to schools.
Colorado school districts are funded per-pupil, so when a school loses students, its budget shrinks. DPS enrollment is expected to decline 6 percent by 2025. Marrero said as the DPS enrollment is declining, adjustments should be made to reduce the central office budget just as a school makes adjustments in its budget.
A Chalkbeat analysis of the 2016-17 school year found that DPS’s central office was top heavy. Then in 2019, after a teacher union strike, then-Superintendent Susana Cordova cut 150 positions from the central office. The cuts freed up about $17 million.
Douglas County Teachers Protest Against Board
The Douglas County School District canceled classes for today. Hundreds of teachers and other staff are taking the day to protest attempts by some school board members to oust Superintendent Corey Wise. Those members allegedly tried to force out Wise without consulting the entire board.
The protest is also aimed at the district’s decision to change its equity policy. Some school employees fear that it will lead to the county teaching critical race theory.
Following November board elections, four new members – buoyed by national conservative group donations – voted to change the district’s equity policy. The policy was passed during the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd.
Louisville Offering Discounted Air Quality Sensors
The City of Louisville is installing air quality sensors at city facilities. The PurpleAir brand of sensors uses lasers to measure airborne particles such as dust, smoke and other pollution. Louisville residents can also purchase a PurpleAir sensor for their homes at a discounted price.
If sensors detect unhealthy or hazardous air quality, residents are encouraged to limit outdoor activity or wear an N95 mask outside. A map showing the Air Quality Index will be available. More information is available at the City of Louisville website.
Denver Officials Propose Affordable Housing Plan
Denver community planners unveiled a proposal Wednesday that would require new residential projects to set aside a portion of apartments or condos for affordable housing. The proposal is a city effort to lessen its housing crisis. If the plan is approved, new housing developers would have to offer 8 to 15 percent of units as income-restricted for 99 years.
City officials are expected to vote on the new policy this spring. Denver is inviting the community to offer feedback at denvergov.org/affordabilityincentive.