Chief Whitman did many things, swiftly and dramatically. First, unlike any of his predecessors, he reached out to minorities by establishing a "Clergy Advisory Team," comprised of local leaders of Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, and Baptist faiths. Whitman listened to their complaints and their advice, and he gave them his word he would do his best to restore the image of the department in the eyes of the community.
The chief then embarked on the closest thing to an overhaul the DPD has ever experienced. He began at the top, replacing the old guard of leadership with his own appointments. He elevated lieutenants to division-chief posts, breaking with a long-accepted informal policy that only captains be promoted to that position. "It was about getting the right people in the right jobs for the right reasons," Whitman says. Hoping to prevent another Mena tragedy and give his officers alternatives to the use of deadly force, he implemented "Crisis Intervention Training," redefined tactics, and secured funding for Taser stun guns. In an effort to track "at-risk" officers-and problematic "Super Cops"-he created a review system in which officers are assigned one point for each citizen complaint and multiple points for actual infractions. An officer with seven points in a single month could get anything from a sit-down with his superior to a suspension.
Whitman made it clear that bad business as usual would not be tolerated. In 2002, after the news broke that the DPD had been compiling "Spy Files" on peaceful activists and Mayor Webb had ordered that the files be turned over and made public, Whitman acted decisively when he learned that some of his Intelligence Bureau detectives were not following the mandate. Locks on the division's doors were changed, desks inside got sealed with crime-scene tape, and the detectives were forbidden from entering their offices until Whitman was satisfied that the bureau was in compliance.
Every step Whitman took to improve the department was met with rank-and-file resistance. "The chief is trying to make police work an exact science and it's not," says Denver Detective Nick Rogers. Rogers is also the vice president of the Police Protective Association (PPA), and he maintains his opinion is held by the majority of Denver cops. "He's lost touch with the department. The troops don't believe they have his support." Retired Capt. Jim Collier, who was still on the force during the personnel changes, says Whitman "ostracized the people in command. It was like [he decided] this was a new day-what happened before was all bad and all wrong." Departmental morale plummeted, at least according to a poll conducted by the PPA, whose members gave Whitman miserable ratings. Intelligence Bureau detectives even left the crime-scene tape dangle from their desks as a sign of protest. Then, a new mayor was elected and a cop killed 15-year-old Paul Childs.