Director of Denver Public Safety reflects on first year in role

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DENVER — The executive director for Denver’s Department of Public Safety oversees the fire department, police department and sheriff’s office. Troy Riggs’ day is jam-packed.

“If you look at some of the things we’ve accomplished in a year, I’m very proud of that. I think we are second to none,” Riggs said.

In his first year on the job, Riggs has reduced budgets by millions of dollars and has instituted new and innovative programs that are getting attention from cities around the country.

“We have the most talented public safety professionals that I’ve ever seen anywhere,” Riggs said.

As part of his commitment to transparency, he invited FOX31 and Channel 2’s Deborah Takahara to be “Director for a Day.”

“It’s something we want people to understand: the vastness of public safety and the importance of public safety,” Riggs said.

He held meetings on bail bond reform, Denver’s Opportunity Index and jail overtime reduction… all before noon. Then, he toured Denver’s brand-new communication center that is almost ready to open.

“Really, in an emergency, this is going to be the hub of activity,” Riggs said.

“It’s exciting to see what was a casual conversation come to reality,” said Councilman Christopher Herndon, who represents the district where the communication center is located.

Riggs also paid a visit to the recruits at the Denver Police Academy.

“I love what you’re doing. Just remember to always be proficient. I don’t care how tough you are, there’s somebody out there tougher. Take your time, use your verbal commands. Take this training seriously. And let me just say this: thank you for being willing to take on the service of being a Denver police officer,” Riggs said to the recruits.

Riggs says his job does keep him up at night, worrying about the 4,400 employees that make up the Department of Public Safety, but he says it’s a rewarding job.

“When you see someone who was struggling and because of your officers or firefighters or something we’ve done as a public safety agency has resulted in life being turned around, that makes you feel good. You know you’re on the right track. We had a young man talk about the difference it made in his life. That’s meaningful for us. That’s an individual that has hope for the first time in many years. That’s what we are in the business of,” Riggs said.

He said mental health is one of the biggest challenges facing our community. He says a person in crisis will come in contact with almost every department: dispatch, police, fire, paramedics and possibly jail. He is hoping to get more crisis intervention training for first responders. He is also always looking for solutions that could work for the department.

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