Denver DA to Open Police Shooting Records

May 4 2007, 8:36 AM

Yesterday I said the Denver DA's office deserved a black mark for its arrest of clothier Andre Holliday in the tax scam case. Today, I'd like to give him credit on another issue.

Denver's district attorney has decided to allow the public to view files on recent shootings by police, departing from an agreement to keep them sealed until administrative reviews of those cases are completed by the city's manager of safety. District Attorney Mitch Morrissey announced this week that he won't wait for Manager of Safety Al LaCabe, who oversees the Police Department, to complete detailed reports on several officer-involved shootings in 2005 and 2006. LaCabe has said he is trying to deal with the backlog of unfinished reports while overhauling the review system and has shifted personnel to do it. "We respect the fact that Al is trying to resolve it," said Chuck Lepley, first assistant district attorney, "but it's in the best interest of the community to get these things open." When someone is shot by a police officer, Morrissey's office determines whether there was any criminal wrongdoing. LaCabe's office investigates whether proper police tactics were used and whether department policy was followed. A series of controversial shootings by police led to a 2005 city ordinance mandating that the manager of safety make his findings public.

The problem has been the backlog in Al LaCabe's office. He's trying to address it. The DA deserves credit for not making the community wait until he succeeds to let the public view the details of their investigation.

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