- The Washington Times - Friday, August 14, 2020

A Denver city councilwoman has proposed replacing the police department with a largely unarmed “peace force,” an agency that would seek to prevent crime by taking a “holistic, anti-racist, public health-oriented approach.”

Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, added to Monday’s city council agenda the “Creation of Peace Force” proposed ballot measure, which if passed would go before the voters in November.

“This department will specifically subsume the current Police Department but will also subsume all relevant functions of existing departments that more properly should be under the Department of Peace Services,” the proposed measure said.

Peace officers would be permitted to use force “only as a last and least favored resort,” and have no immunity from prosecution “unless it can be shown by clear and convincing evidence that the action was necessary for immediate self-defense and/or the immediate defense of another person.”

“To underscore this, most officers in the Peacekeeping service will not have arrest powers or be licensed to bear or use arms as part of their duties,” the proposal said.

The measure comes with Denver on pace to have the deadliest year in more than a decade, with 52 homicides reported as of Thursday. The city saw 63 homicides in all of 2019 and 67 in 2018, with murders creeping up since falling to 31 in 2014.

As in other municipalities, Black Lives Matter activists have called for Denver to defund the police, and while Mayor Michael Hancock has expressed support for improving officer accountability, the city has not sought to slash funding to the department.

The proposed “peace force” would actively seek to recruit minority officers based on an affirmative action system, and while “a merit-based system is also envisioned, merit shall not usurp the requirement that the members of the force be substantially representative of the demographics of the community they serve.”

The force, which would be overseen by a citizen board, would respond to “all situations of violence, unrest, mental health crisis, public health disturbance, domestic strife,” and seek to “deal with underlying problems that can lead to unlawful or violent behavior before it happens.”

The measure also criticized police for being “reactive” to crime and accused the department of being racist, saying it was “evident that certain members of our community face disproportionate policing and violence based upon the color of their skin.”

Ms. CdeBaca credited protesters who have called for defunding the police with helping her develop the measure.

“As much as I want to claim credit for this, it was not all me,” Ms. CdeBaca told Denverite. “This was all of them with my advice.”

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