- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Chief of Police Robert White are standing firm against an outcry by the rank and file touched off by protesters who were allowed to throw red paint on the city’s memorial to fallen officers.

In a dispute taking on characteristics of the hostility between New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and his city’s finest, the police union has called for the chief to step down after he defended letting the memorial be desecrated rather than provoke a confrontation.

But Mr. Hancock told reporters he supported the chief’s policy of not interfering with the vandals at Saturday’s protest and then arresting them afterward, even though he was “pissed off” by their actions.

“I support Chief White, and I support his command staff’s decision to stand down and not put police officers in harm’s way,” Mr. Hancock said in a video posted Monday on Denver CBS4 News.

His comments came shortly before the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police and the Denver Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #41 joined the Denver Police Protective Association in calling for Chief White to step down, saying he had lost the confidence of his officers.

“Let us be blunt, in light of what you all allowed, supported and justified this weekend, you are a disgrace to the uniform and the badge pinned upon your chest. You display none of the characteristics of what the Denver Police badge represents,” said a Monday letter to Chief White from the Denver FOP board.

The letter accused the chief of failing to acknowledge the work of police officers or come to their defense during the recent wave of anti-police demonstrations sparked by the highly publicized deaths last year of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement in Missouri, Cleveland and New York.

“You are responsible for the desecration of our Brothers and Sisters[‘s] memorial and there is nothing you can say or do to repair that,” said the letter. “The real officers of this department have no confidence in you. You made your decision to stand with the criminals that treat us with vile contempt and utter hatred. You sent the message to every criminal that it is [OK] to assault us and try to tear us down.”

The Colorado FOP also called for the resignation of Director of Public Safety Stephanie O’Malley, saying that, “Morale in both departments has been destroyed to the point that with their continued presence public safety services will suffer going forward.”

Chief White said in a statement Sunday that he was “incredibly proud of the restraint and professionalism displayed yesterday and the fact that other officers quickly identified and then arrested the suspects.”

“I absolutely understand the frustration and disgust that some officers felt,” Chief White said.

The memorial to fallen officers was defaced during a protest march Saturday organized by the Denver Community Defense Committee — an anti-police group affiliated with the Denver Anarchist Black Cross — which drew about 100 people.

In a statement released Sunday, organizers offered no apology for the defaced memorial.

“It is telling that, at this moment, local media and the Denver Police Department are more offended over red paint being splashed on a piece of stone than the very real red blood that continues to stain our streets because of unchecked police violence,” said a statement on the group’s Facebook page. “Although the paint was easily washed off the memorial, the scars left by police terror can never be washed away.”

Two men, 23-year-old Matthew Goldberg and 25-year-old Robert Guerrero, were arrested and charged with criminal mischief stemming from the vandalism. The memorial has since been cleaned and the paint removed.

The Denver FOP has asked supporters to bring flowers to the memorial starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

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