Denver Police chief announces internal affairs dept. shakeup

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DENVER -- Whether you agree with his changes or not, Chief of Denver Police Robert White has been busy.

“I'm delighted to announce a reorganization of our internal affairs division,” White said Tuesday at a meeting.

It’s a small part of his vision to transform the Denver Police Department.

His vision started in February by implementing a plan which would eventually put 70 more officers on Denver’s streets by eliminating some administrative positions.

But with a department scarred by excessive force incidents, some of which have been caught on camera, the second part of White’s plan is more daunting.

“We need to address the perception and reality as it relates to those portions of the community which questions whether we can manage discipline ourselves,” he said.

That’s part of what makes White’s choice to run his internal affairs division controversial. White chose 29-year veteran Mary Beth Klee to run the division. While no one can question Klee’s qualifications, some question her judgement.

Klee publicly supported two officers involved in a high-profile excessive force incident at the Denver Diner in 2009. Klee testified that she thought the officers acted appropriately even though the city of Denver disagreed.

The alleged victim from that incident questioned whether Klee is the change the Denver Police Department needs.

“Nothing has been done. It's being swept under the rug. Police officers are being told this is okay to do,” said Ana Ortega who is suing the Denver Police Department for the Diner incident.

The third part of White’s plan involves giving more tools to officers to build support in the community. He’s been actively involved the effort to do that. White acknowledges there is still a lot of work to be done to help the department.