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Committee: Denver police policy on force was too open-ended

According to advisory committee members who spent months revising the Denver Police Department's recommended use-of-force policies, the suggestions were generally good in an overall sense.

They were just too vague and didn't go nearly far enough to instill public confidence.

In contrast, the committee's recently submitted proposals go a good deal further. In fact, their spelled-out recommendations over a 30-page report approximately triple the length of the document introduced back in January by Denver Police Chief Robert White.

That report was met with strong public criticisms for being too fuzzy in language details regarding when and to what extent the use of force by police officers can be employed in the general public. The condemnation was sufficient to prompt White's subsequent appointment of a 15-member committee to revisit his earlier draft.

By all indications, the recently released policy update is far more specific and, according to a Denver Post report, "uses much stronger language" aimed at controlling aggressive police action.

One committee member publicly commenting on his group's multi- month effort and finished product says that, "It was a good process, and it's a good product." He adds that "it's a state-of-the-art policy and the city should be proud."

Among other things, the new language seeks stronger curbs on the use of pepper spray, Tasers, chokeholds, deployed weapons and police attack dogs.

Chief White now has some time to duly consider the recommendations. Although their adoption is not mandatory, it is widely expected the police department will incorporate much of what the committee recommends into a final use-of-force policy document.

The Post notes the strong recommendation of experts nationally that groups like Denver's advisory committee have legitimate input in police-control processes. The paper stresses that "people have more confidence in police when [the public is] involved in forming policies."

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