Ron Thomas sworn in as Denver’s new police chief
Denver County Court chief presiding judge Nicole M. Rodarte swears in Denver Police Department chief of police Ron Thomas on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, at the Denver City and County Building in Denver, Colo. (Timothy Hurst/The Gazette)
Denver has a new top cop — at least until the mayor’s administration changes next year.
Chief Ron Thomas took his oath of office Tuesday morning from Presiding Judge Nicole Rodarte in the Denver City and County building. City Council confirmed his appointment Monday.
He takes on the department as it grapples with a shortage of nearly 200 officers, increased response times to calls and a rash of lawsuits over excessive-force incidents.
“We all know the state of affairs with regards to the relationship between the community and the police department. But I believe we have a phenomenal individual who is dedicated to the department and equally dedicated to the community,” Mayor Michael Hancock said.
Thomas replaces Paul Pazen, who officially stepped down as chief Oct. 15. He most recently was the police the department’s patrol division chief, and previously served as commander of patrol Districts Two and Five and the Internal Affairs Bureau.
A graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School, Thomas came to the department in 1989.
Hancock announced Thomas as his pick for Denver’s next chief when the news of Pazen’s retirement broke at the end of summer. Thomas takes the job amid questions about whether Denver’s next mayor, whom voters will choose in less than a year, will appoint a new police chief.
Thomas said he will prioritize addressing crime, reducing response times and addressing the current officer shortage by redistributing resources where possible to free up patrol officers. The department uses resources such as crash or property report technicians as alternatives to armed officers in low-level situations. Additionally, the city’s Department of Public Health and Environment operates the Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) program, which sends pairs of mental health clinicians and paramedics to nonviolent situations for which a behavioral health response is appropriate.
“I want every individual who lives in the city to understand that the Denver Police Department works for them,” Thomas said.
Police departments often make the mistake of assuming they know what the residents they serve need, Thomas said, and that understanding what residents want is key to building trust between the department and community.
“In reality, I think we can learn a lot from listening to the community.”
Timothy Hurst/Denver Gazette
Reprinted from Ron Thomas sworn in as Denver’s new police chief | Police & Public Safety | denvergazette.com