Feds will review Commerce City police after misconduct cases

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DENVER | U.S. Justice Department officials agreed Wednesday to a request by a suburban police department to review its procedures after a series of high-profile misconduct cases involving officers eroded public trust.

The Commerce City Police Department sought the review by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services in July.

It came after one officer staged his own shooting last year and another was charged with unlawful sexual contact after being accused of touching three women during traffic stops.

“Anytime you have officers committing crimes while on duty, that is going to challenge the trust of the community in its police department,” Interim Chief Lowell Richardson said. “It’s our responsibility to restore that trust.”

The Justice Department, which frequently agrees to such reviews, will study a number of factors, including hiring, recruitment methods and the way Commerce City officers patrol and interact with the community.

Investigators will interview officers and command staff as well as residents and activists.

Such voluntary reviews are considered less of a stigma than investigations undertaken by civil rights investigators that can lead to overhauls and court-enforceable agreements between the police force and the federal government.

Bob Troyer, acting U.S. attorney in Colorado, called it “the most helpful first step you can imagine.”

The agency’s findings could be available in six to eight months, with regular progress reports to follow for about two years.