DENVER (KDVR) – Sixty-six deputies from the Denver Sheriff Department have retired or resigned while under investigation since 2017. The Problem Solvers uncovered the figure from a public records request while researching a story on the state’s new police reform accountability law.
“Sometimes a deputy or a police officer may see the writing on the wall,” said Mary Dulacki, deputy director for Denver’s Department of Safety.
Dulacki, who issues discipline in many of the cases involving the Denver police and sheriff departments, admits some individuals choose to leave before they can be fired.
“That’s certainly the case in some of them. Yes, absolutely,” she said.
Since Jan. 1, 2017, 20 Denver deputies have retired while under investigation for a policy violation. Another 46 deputies chose to resign before punishment could be handed out.
Dulacki said the department closes cases without a finding when someone quits or retires because the City and County of Denver no longer has jurisdiction to take any action but denies that former employees escape accountability.
“I don’t think so at all,” said Dulacki before adding, “We would still allow anyone access to (the internal affairs file) should they request access to it.”
Since 2016, Dulacki said Colorado law allows law enforcement agencies to review employee internal affairs files from other agencies before they choose to hire someone.
The Denver Sheriff Department has 747 sworn deputies. Losing 66 deputies in a 3 1/2 years would mean 9% of the department left under a cloud of suspicion.
In the same time period, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, which has 555 sworn deputies, had two deputies leave while under investigation.
“We’ve had some turbulent times in the Denver Sheriff’s Department based on reform,” said Dulacki.
Gov. Jared Polis signed a new law in June that will create a database to track any police officer who is terminated or resigns while under investigation. But the state Department of Public Safety won’t be required to update and share the database publicly until 2023. An officer who retires while under investigation is exempted from the database.