New interim Denver Sheriff is first woman to lead department

DENVER -- Fran Gomez was selected to lead the Denver Sheriff Department in the interim following the resignation of Denver Sheriff Patrick Firman on Thursday.

Gomez will be the first woman to take over the position. She is currently listed as the Director of Professional Standards with the department, a position she has held for over a year.

Her first stint in law enforcement was as a Deputy Sheriff for the Denver department in 1987. She then held positions with Aurora and Commerce City before rejoining the Denver Sheriff's Department.

Firman ran the Denver Sheriff Department since October 2015 and his last day will be Oct. 14.

The sheriff department is separate from the Denver Police Department and it oversees the city’s jail and court systems.

There have been several high-profile scandals involving the sheriff department during Firman’s tenure, including inmate deaths, use-of-force issues and huge overtime bills for deputies.

A female inmate also gave birth inside a cell without medical attention. She has since filed a federal lawsuit.

Denver is the only county in Colorado that doesn’t elect it’s own Sheriff. Instead, the Sheriff is appointed by the Mayor. Director of Public Safety Troy Riggs says they’ll hold community panels to get the public’s input, similar to the process of finding a new police chief.

“Having a meeting doesn’t necessarily mean giving community decision making power,” said Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca. CdeBaca is working on a charter change or ballot initiative to let the voters decide who should be the Sheriff.

“We spend taxpayer dollars on these positions, on the lawsuits that result from failure in these positions and so we should have the ability to decide who we put, who we elevate to these roles,” CdeBaca said.

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