FOP Denver PD Lodge #41

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A Message From Lodge 41 President, Michael Gunter:

 

FOP Lodge #41 Members,

Recently Executive Director of the State FOP Lodge, Michael Violette, published a letter with scathing reviews of the city leaders that the Denver Police, Denver Sheriffs and Denver Fire Department have to work under. KMGH Channel 7 reported on this and Denver Police Chief Robert White responded, stating that the report was, “…fraught with inaccuracies.” However, it seems the report contains information that Mayor Hancock, Safety Manager O’Malley, Deputy Manager Vigil, Independent Monitor Mitchell, Chief White and Deputy Chief Murray have all publicly made or became verified public knowledge. I am curious as to what exactly are the inaccuracies. We would love to sit down with the Chief again and discuss some concerns but he has not met with Executive Board Members of Lodge #41 in almost two years.

As the President of Lodge #41, I have personally spoken to young patrol officers who very quickly begin to question why they’ve taken on this job. I’ve spoken with seasoned patrol Officers, Corporals and Sergeants who are counting the days to their respective retirements. I’ve spoken with Detectives who are buried in cases but would rather face a mountain of paper rather than go back to the streets. I’ve read discipline cases and I’ve spoken with officers who survived the city’s wrath and those that haven’t.

This diverse group believes that their lives are facing an increasing danger. They see their careers facing increased scrutiny from every angle imaginable. They see that an officer’s word is no longer good. City officials argue semantics rather than established facts. When an officer attempts to fight for his or her job, they are guilty until he or she can prove the city wrong. A task that is undeniably difficult when the city does not play by the same rules, evident when the city ignores and throws out independent hearing officers’ conclusions and the usually fair recommendations of Chief White. Yet, they come to work. Everyday. Buttoning their shirts, tying their boots, answering the calls, filing out paperwork, all in hopes of getting through to just one person for the better.

Everyone above that dons the badge understands and is willing to face certain inherent dangers in the job. They expect that they will be punched and spit on and get in fights. But they expect to go home too. They have seen officers commit heroic acts in unspeakable dangerous situations. They’ve seen officers remain calm in the most chaotic situations. Performing these selfless acts while essentially being told, “Do more with less…but do it better…and without hurting or offending anyone”. Counting on the only people they can… the other officers and Sergeants out there answering the call.

When Sergeant Tony Lopez Jr, then an officer, was critically injured in December 2015, he was working in unmarked car while assigned to the District 1 narcotics unit. One of his duties was to be highly proactive in seeking out criminal activity when not assisting the undercover narcotics officers. One would be lead to believe that in a highly proactive position in that type of setting, where suspects are more unpredictable and prone to violence, Sergeant Lopez would have had a partner. He did not.

Staffing issues nearly got Sergeant Lopez murdered. Had it not been for his unthinkable will to live, the actions taken by responding officers, paramedics and doctors at Denver Health, we would have added another name to the Denver Police Officer Memorial.

Sergeant Lopez was not alone in this. This happens routinely, in specialized units and out in patrol. Officers going to calls alone. They are exposed and vulnerable. With the State of Colorado releasing more violent offenders, crime rates rising at dangerous levels, staffing levels and split shifts resulting in costly city paid overtime and leading to mentally burnt out officers, it is not a question of IF we add a name to the memorial but WHEN.

We understand that these reasons, plus a tumultuous political climate sweeping the nation, are some of the factors basic recruit classes are not filling up as they once did. In the 90’s, there used to be thousands of applicants that wanted to be a DENVER POLICE OFFICER. Now when only 20-30 people make up an approved class of 50, it should be a sign of things to come. Those signs are extremely troubling.

Respectfully,

Michael Gunter
President
Denver FOP Lodge #41

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