The Denver City Council voted down a proposal to replace the police department with a largely unarmed “peace force” at its Monday night meeting after the mayor denounced the concept as “reckless and irresponsible.”
The council voted 11-1 to suspend the proposal submitted by councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, which would have placed the item on the November ballot, with other council members saying they needed more time to solicit community feedback.
Only Ms. CdeBaca, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, voted in favor of the “peace force” measure, later saying that she would consider trying to place it on the ballot via the signature-gathering process.
“It will be coming to a ballot at some point regardless because citizens can get things on the ballot,” she told CBS4.
The vote came after Denver Mayor Michael Hancock condemned the “reckless and irresponsible proposal” in a Saturday statement, saying that it was “ignorant of the reforms we have already undertaken in Public Safety.”
“So long as I am Mayor, we will not abolish the Denver Police Department,” tweeted Mr. Hancock on Monday. “We will not erode the capacity of our law enforcement and first responders to keep our communities, neighborhoods, schools and homes in Denver, safe.”
He ticked off dozens of law-enforcement policies enacted since he was elected in 2011, including mandatory de-escalation training, required body cameras for officers, and banning chokeholds.
Mr. Hancock added that “the Councilwoman should exercise greater transparency and public accountability before putting something of this magnitude forward for a vote instead of springing it on the public.”
The proposed peace force would have replace police with “peace officers,” most of whom would be unarmed and would have no immunity from prosecution except in clear cases of self-defense or defense of another person.
The measure was backed by the Afro Liberation Front, which said that Mr. Hancock had “unfortunately missed another opportunity to stand by the people of Denver.”
Like many major U.S. cities, Denver has seen a surge in crime over the summer with homicides rising to their highest level in more than a decade.
So far 58 people have been killed in the violence, including three people last weekend in shootings that also injured seven.