DENVER (KDVR) — Wednesday, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen announced his retirement from the department after 28 years of service. He has been in his current role since 2018.
“He walked into the role of police chief at one of the most difficult times really in our country’s history. Between the pandemic, the civil unrest after George Floyd’s murder, it’s a job that when you’re right in the center of the storm, I’m quite sure it can be wearing,” Denver City Councilman Paul Kashmann said.
Kashmann described Pazen as “easy to work with” and wished him well in his retirement.
“I think it’s a huge opportunity, quite honestly,” Al Gardner, who is on the Denver Citizen Oversight board said. “Maybe a fresh set of eyes is what we need right now.”
Division Chief Ron Thomas has been named acting chief and nominated to be promoted to the position pending approval from City Council. He has been with DPD since 1989.
“My expectation is that although he’s been in the department for a long time, sometimes being in a position to actually pull levers is altogether different,” Gardner said. “I’m looking forward to the new chief and moving forward in the direction of reform, recruitment, retention and all of those things.”
“I’ve worked with Chief Thomas in my time on council. He’s a good man, he’s certainly has a lengthy history with the department, local roots,” Kashmann said. “When you walk into the lead role it takes a combination of skills that you don’t know if the person possesses until they’re actually in that chair but as I sit here today there’s nothing about chief Thomas that has me concerned.”
Thomas will be expected to make major changes in reducing violent crimes, restoring public trust and increasing recruitment. DPD currently has 170 openings, representing 10% of the force.
“Chief’s got a tough job ahead of him,” Kashmann said. “Certainly you need to have top-notch management skills but at this point in time we’re also in the midst of a discussion that in addition to traditional badge and gun policing we’re also looking at public safety from a public health perspective.”