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Monday, July 14, 2008

Denver and the west Report: Police use of force improved

two-year independent study of the Denver Police Department's use of deadly force has found that the department has made great strides since the controversial shootings of Frank Lobato and Paul Childs but still has some work to do.

The report concludes that as little as three years ago there were systemic problems in how the department investigated deadly force and in the department's policies governing deadly- force standards.

Though those problems have been largely corrected, some issues remain, said the report by the Los Angeles-based Police Assessment Resource Center, a nonprofit hired for $150,000 by Richard Rosenthal, Denver's independent police monitor, to review the DPD's policies.

The report recommends policy changes regarding the use of impact weapons, such as police flashlights and saps — flat leather batons also known as blackjacks.

It also said the department should review how it issues commendations to officers. Officers involved in fatal shootings have received the police department's highest award, the medal of honor, even though they used poor tactics, the report found.

"We conclude that the DPD today meets and even exceeds national standards in many areas, making the DPD one of a handful of American police departments becoming a national leader," the report says. "Yet it was not always so; and up to as little as three or four years ago, as this report will demonstrate, there was much to improve in the quality and thoroughness of internal investigations of deadly force incidents."

Rosenthal hired the center to conduct a similar study when he worked in a monitor position in Portland, Ore.  [Mark Godsey]

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