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By Noelle Phillips

The Denver Police Department has invited 15 community representatives and a handful of city officials to join an advisory board that will help the department rewrite its use-of-force policy.

The advisory group will meet for the first time Wednesday, and its deadline for submitting recommendations will be Sept. 1, according to copies of the invitations obtained by The Denver Post through a open records request.

Police Chief Robert White decided to form the advisory group after receiving pressure from Denver City Council and other groups who have been critical of Denver’s law enforcement. Plans to change the use-of-force policy, which guides when officers may punch, shock or shoot people, were announced in January.

White sent letters April 4 inviting participants from organizations such as the Denver Justice Project, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Denver Police Foundation.

He also asked City Council President Albus Brooks to appoint three members from the council. The Denver Police Protective Association will be included as will Independent Monitor Nick Mitchell.

And the family of Jessica Hernandez, a 17-year-old girl shot to death by officers in 2015, will be allowed to participate or to appoint a designee. That appointment was part of a legal settlement announced earlier this week that included a $1 million payment to the family as well as concessions aimed at improving the police department’s relationship with the Latino and gay communities.

The letters state that members of the advisory group will meet two hours each week until the Sept. 1 deadline. All members must attend the first two planning sessions at the Denver Police Academy where they will be educated about the department’s use-of-force training and scenarios so they can be familiar with issues surrounding law enforcement, the letters said.

The committee also will create a code of conduct for itself and will use the existing draft policy and public commentary as the starting point for discussion, White wrote.

The letters were mailed to the following people or organizations:

  • Colorado Black Roundtable
  • Black Lives Matter 5280
  • Denver Justice Project
  • ACLU of Colorado
  • Daniel J. Culhane, a Denver lawyer who is a certified mediator
  • Colorado Latino Forum
  • City Attorney Kristin Bronson
  • Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Independent Monitor Nick Mitchell
  • NAACP Denver Branch
  • Citizens Appreciate Police
  • Denver Police Foundation
  • Denver Police Protective Association
  • Greater Denver Ministerial Alliance
  • National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice
  • Jessica Hernandez family
  • Together Colorado
  • Urban League
  • Denver City Council (3 members)

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