DENVER (KDVR) — Community members reacted following Thursday’s press conference with Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver Police Division Chief Ron Thomas.
Some told FOX31 that nominating Thomas will be a seamless transition, while others believe the change is absolutely necessary.
From Pazen’s legacy in the eyes of the community to what’s next for the department were some things members talked about.
Thomas is a self-proclaimed “man of few words.” The mayor’s nominee for Denver’s next top cop told reporters actions speak louder and the community is listening.
“I am so sad to see chief Pazen go,” Jason McBride said, who is heavily involved with the community as a violence prevention specialist.
He said Pazen has played an influential role as leader of the city’s police department and believes Thomas will continue to build on what he calls a lasting legacy.
“I think we haven’t had a chief like [Pazen] in a long, long time,” he said, adding, “He wanted us to have input in how we policed our communities and was one of a kind chief in regards to that, for sure.”
Meanwhile, others have cautious optimism.
“I know that COVID was hard on law enforcement, the death of George Floyd. I’ve heard those things; however, every chief of police is judged by what happens on their tenure,” Terrance Roberts said.
Roberts is a community organizer in Denver who believes this moment is a pivotal point for restoring community trust and establishing transparency.
This changing of the guard comes on the heels of a historic lawsuit where the city just gave out more than $14 million for the department’s response to the George Floyd protests. And a recent shooting in LoDo where officers shot a suspect who they say pointed a gun, and six other bystanders were shot in the incident.
“We had a mass shooting by Denver police. They blamed food trucks. These are small businesses,” Roberts told us, adding, “These are the small businesses that sustain our city.”
Roberts said the community needs to continue the conversation about reimagining policing and the city of Denver saying it’s gonna happen.
“Thomas knows what to do, what the deal is, what the neighborhoods are, how they move, which is integral,” Roberts said.
During that news conference, we asked the mayor and incoming chief about the former chief’s plans, and his possible run for mayor, but they did not directly answer our questions.