Colorado Latino Forum aims to change the way the Denver County Sheriff is chosen

DENVER -- A move is underway that could change the way the Denver County Sheriff is chosen.

Currently, the mayor appoints a person to the position.

The Colorado Latino Forum now wants the sheriff to be elected.

The organization says an elected sheriff could be held more accountable than an appointed one.

The Forum’s Co-Chair Lisa Calderon said, “… we know jail assaults are on the rise. We’ve had a recent homicide in there so no one should go to jail and fear that they won’t come out alive.”

The Latino Forum puts the blame on the Sheriff and is now trying to figure out how to change how the county’s top lawman is chosen.

Calderon went on to say, “… we’re one of the few jurisdictions in the nations that doesn’t elect its sheriff, so Denver in that sense is an anomaly. But we really feel like we need to have more direct accountability of the person who runs the largest jail system in the region.”

The Latino Forum says there are also problems with overcrowding at the jail and high turnover in the department.

Currently, the sheriff is appointed by the Mayor and serves under the Department of Public Safety – all those layers - Calderon says - make it hard to hold the office accountable.

A spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety said, “… the Department of Public Safety supports collaboration and accountability… Each… appointee... works with an… Independent Monitor and Citizen Oversight Board... those components provide multiple checks and balances and transparency mechanisms… we have been focused on process improvement for years….”.

The Latino Forum wants the sheriff to have an independent office and answer to voters - instead of a bureaucracy.

Calderon said, “The taxpayers just deserve better we’ve been paying out multimillion dollar settlements that have been on the rise and have no say in paying that. It doesn’t come out of the sheriff’s budget. It doesn’t come out of the Safety Department budget, it comes directly from taxpayers.

The Colorado Latino Forum says it will begin collecting as many as 43 thousand signatures at some time. They are hoping to get a Sheriff election measure on the ballot in November 2018.