Denver police chief walks arm-in-arm with protesters

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DENVER (KDVR) — Denver Police Department Chief Paul Pazen and at least one other DPD member walked arm-in-arm with protesters downtown Monday afternoon.

Video shows the group leading a large gathering of protesters through Civic Center Park.

“Our goal is to have a better police department, better city and a better community. And the way that we do that is working together through those frustrations,” Pazen said.

Monday marks the fifth consecutive day of protests in Denver.

While daytime events have largely remained peaceful, police have violently clashed with rioters at night.

The rioters have caused significant damage to businesses, vehicles and public buildings in and around downtown.

Over the past four days, a total of 284 people have been arrested in connection to the riots.

The demonstrations stem from the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody after an officer knelt on his neck.

Some have criticized Pazen’s department for how officers are handling crowds.

“We have to focus on the tremendous work that our officers are doing to keep the citizens of Denver safe and this city safe,” Pazen said. “But we must hold ourselves accountable and we will to our policy and to our values. And if somebody within our team is performing below those expectations, then we certainly will take immediate actions to address those situations.”

Earlier Monday, the chief ordered an Internal Affairs investigation into one of his officers who took to social media, posting “Let’s start a riot.”

Videos have also surfaced on social media of officers’ behavior has citizens questioning if the riots have pushed some officers to violate the department’s policies.

“If officers have not demonstrated that they should be out on the line, then they won’t be out on the line,” Pazen said. “Those are decisions that we make beyond discipline, and we’ll just have to leave it at that.”

The chief declined to go into specifics when FOX31 asked how many officers have been taken off the front line in the past four days. 

Pazen said there have been issues with people bringing weapons and “infiltrating peaceful protests.”

“We recognize, we acknowledge that we always haven’t gotten it right, but we will work together with our community to do it better in the future,” Pazen said. “If that means identifying folks within our department that don’t adhere to our policy and values, then it’s incumbent that we hold them accountable and do something about it.”

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