DPD Chief Pazen takes questions from community, promises change

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DENVER (KDVR) — Denver Police Department Chief Paul Pazen met with community members online Wednesday night. The chief said it would be the first of many conversations in response to the unprecedented protests happening following the in-custody death of George Floyd.

For an hour, the chief took questions from the community and talked about the need to pay attention to this significant moment.

Pazen talked about the thousands of people who are out in the streets protesting even knowing the risks linked to COVID-19. Pazen said that shows him his department has to listen to their message.

Pazen was candid about the need to make changes to how DPD recruits, trains and how it holds officers accountable.

One question centered on policy change concerning the “duty to intervene,” or making it mandatory for an officer to step in if another officer is using unreasonable force. Pazen said that policy has his support.

“If any one of them would have said ‘enough.’ If any one of them would have said ‘stop.’ Then we wouldn’t know George Floyd’s name. So there absolutely has to be a duty to intervene,” said Pazen of the Minneapolis officers charged in Floyd’s death.

Pazen also talked about the notable shift in tone in the protests since Monday night. He said people like Neil Yarbrough are to thank. Yarborough is one of the protest organizers who sat down with the chief Wednesday for the online event.

“I commend you and other young leaders. There’s many like you that recognize that this message is too important to allow others to hijack and are stepping up and not allowing the harm to take place,” said Pazen to Yarbrough.  

The chief was also asked about acts of aggression DPD officers have used toward peaceful protesters. Pazen said that is never the intention and that there would be an independent review.

The chief also apologized to any peaceful protesters who have been negatively impacted.

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