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Police officers, firefighters pack hearing on discipline review changes

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DENVER -- Denver police officers and firefighters packed a hearing Friday on proposed changes to the way the Civil Service Commission handles the discipline review process.

Officers say the proposals would eliminate their due process and necessary checks and balances.

Supporters say it will not do that, but will streamline a cumbersome process.

Safety Manager Alex Martinez says the changes would also focus the reviews on the officer’s conduct, where it belongs.

Denver officer Ricky Nixon spoke against the proposed changes, saying the current system gave him a fair hearing and review.

Nixon is one of the officers fired after a city HALO camera videotape shows police roughing up and pepper spraying people outside the Denver Diner in July of 2009.

The Civil Service reinstated him and he is currently working a desk job at the police department.

The city is appealing the reinstatement.  And community outrage over the Denver Diner and other incidents in part sparked the call for changes in the discipline review process.

In an emotional statement, Nixon told the Commission, “I value my honesty and integrity, my credibility and my ethics.  It’s so very hurtful and hard to swallow when I’m told by the manager of safety my ethics are lacking, tarnishing the position of the badge and position of the police officer.”

Some of the women involved in the incident are suing the officers and the City.  Nixon tells FOX31 Denver, “I love being a Denver cop, I always wanted to be a Denver cop.”

He adds, “I would never in a million years tarnish this badge or disgrace the department or the uniform.”

Nixon also faces disciplinary hearings in the alleged beating case of Alex Landau, also in 2009.  Landau received $795,000 in a lawsuit settlement over the case.

The Department of Justice recently announced its investigation will not result in any charges against Nixon or the other officers.

Because of the pending lawsuits and hearing, Nixon would not comment specifically on the cases.  But he says, “I wish that I would be able to say everything to the public because there’s more to these cases than people realize and unfortunately I’m never given the benefit of the doubt.”

He says, “There’s more to these cases than a two-second video clip.”

Nixon says, “There’s a reason I contact people and it’s because they bring attention to themselves.  It’s not that I just wanted to go up and contact somebody or get involved in a use of force.  All I wanted was to do my job and make sure people are safe.  And if somebody needs to get arrested then they need to get arrested.”

On his reinstatement, Nixon says, “The city has lost at every level, every level they appeal they lose and they still continue to appeal the case.”