Independent report urges ‘sweeping’ changes for Denver Sheriff Department

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DENVER -- An independent report into the Denver Sheriff Department released Thursday recommends "sweeping" changes in the wake of several abuse scandals.

The report, by consulting firm Hillard Heintze, found a vast majority of use-of-force incidents in the department weren't investigated, and found 14 key findings and made 277 recommendations, with major changes suggested to "almost every area" of the department.

The report was ordered by Denver officials in the wake of excessive-force scandals at the Denver jail that have led to death and injury.

The city has paid more than $9 million in legal settlements and lawyers' fees related to several excessive-force scandals.

RELATED: Hillard Heintze Report on the Denver Sheriff Department

"Hillard Heintze’s first and principal finding is that the City and County of Denver need to bring immediate, extensive and sustained reforms to almost every area of the Denver Sheriff Department’s operations in order to align DSD with national best practices in corrections, prevent incidents that result in court-ordered fines and penalties, and begin to regain public trust," a letter from the consulting firm to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Executive Director of Safety Stephanie O'Malley read.

The report said the most vital areas that need reform are in leadership and supervision; development and execution to implement the recommendations in the report; and improvements in use-of-force policies, internal affairs, staffing and jail management operations.

Mayor Michael Hancock said "this is a turning point" for the department.