DENVER -- After the ambush on Dallas police officers, Denver’s largest police union, the Police Protective Association, is demanding changes in the department’s policies.
The PPA sent two letters to police Chief Robert White, Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver International Airport Manager of Aviation Kim Day.
In one letter, the PPA asks that officers be allowed to wear protective gear while providing security for protesters.
"Our officers on the street have been given orders not to deploy at protests with protective gear on, for fear that the officers will look intimidating and perhaps unwittingly escalate the intensity of the protests," the letter reads in part.
"Those orders needlessly place the officers in harm’s way, and force each of them to risk serious injury, simply for appearance’s sake. It will not be long before oneor more of those officers is injured, perhaps seriously.”
Assault rifles at DIA
The other letter to DIA asks that officers be allowed to carry their assault rifles.
“As you are painfully aware, there has been multiple, numerous terrorist threats and assaults on airports and other public or visible venues -- both domestically and internationally," union president Nick Rogers wrote.
"There are currently 40 officers assigned to DIA who are authorized to carry ARs. It is our understanding uniformed police officers in many other U.S. airports are permitted to openly carry this weapon and this type of equipment -- not only to deter but thwart any immediate armed threat.”
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Rogers said his fellow officers aren’t expressing concerns about their safety. But he said he is worried for them and for the citizens they protect and serve every day.
“The biggest fear I have, because of this policy, because of this attitude by this administration, that one of my officers ... one of our officers is going to get injured. If one of our officers gets injured because of the policies of the mayor and chief, there’s going to be hell to pay," Rogers said.
He said image appears to be more important than safety.
“We have the equipment, it is available," Rogers said. "But it is not on within reach when harm’s way comes to those who need us to protect them. I’m putting the mayor and chief on notice if one of our officers is injured because of their policies, there will be legal action and there will be hell to pay.”
“The Mayor's office has not received letters from the PPA on the topics you described," Hancock press secretary Amber Miller said in a statement. "As such, we have not yet been able to review and do not have further comment at this time. As for tactical decisions regarding Denver's officers: Our No. 1 goal is the safety of our people and our officers. The Police Chief and command staff make decisions everyday to achieve those goals."
Chief Robert White has said publicly the department is weighing all options, but does not feel the need at this time to change the way local protests are handled.
"I don’t anticipate officers in riot gear," he said.
White said it can be viewed as intimidating and the department’s tactic will be to remain nonconfrontational.