Denver auditor slams sheriff’s department in report, says jail is ‘seriously mismanaged’

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The findings of a report on Denver Jail operations were released by Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher on Thursday, March 19, 2015. (Photo: Paul Makarushka)

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Data pix.

DENVER -- Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher released a blistering report Thursday morning on the Denver Sheriff's Department, saying the city's jail is "seriously mismanaged" and "inmates, detainees, deputies and taxpayers" are put "at significant risk."

The report comes after a series of excessive force lawsuits were settled by the city, costing more than $9 million in 2014.

RELATED: Jail Operations Audit Report

The audit cites chronic understaffing at the Downtown Detention Center and the Denver County Jail, and it criticizes the Denver Department of Safety, which oversees the sheriff's, fire and police departments. The report also cites incomplete analysis of available information by the Internal Affairs Bureau.

Leaders of the sheriff's department are using a "flawed methodology" to estimate the number of staffers that are needed, the report reads.

"Overall, the audit found that the management of jail operations has been poor which harms the city's reputation and leads to other problems including the waste of taxpayer resources," according to a statement from the auditor's office.

The report says Gallagher believes the sheriff and safety manager are "working towards remedying the issues."

"We have to understand what our challenges are to guide changes in the right directions," safety manager Stephanie O'Malley said.

In response, the sheriff's department said it is working with the Internal Affairs Bureau to increase resources and reduce backlogged cases.

"While we absolutely recognize and support the need for improved data preservation and analytics, it will take time and resources to build this unit," the department wrote in its response.

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