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Denver police chief vows to implement policy changes after watchdog report on George Floyd protests

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Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen vowed reforms after an independent watchdog castigated the department’s handling of protests following the death of George Floyd.

“I do take accountability and responsibility for our department’s actions,” Pazen said at a Tuesday news conference, according to The Denver Post. “We will use this report to improve.”

The report from the Denver Office of the Independent Monitor found the department did not properly record body camera footage during demonstrations or keep proper records of use of force. It also faulted the department’s use of chemical and impact ammunition, finding, for example, that officers continued using such ammunition on crowds that were already dispersing.

Pazen agreed to 15 of 16 policy changes the report recommended but said the spontaneity of the protests was the primary reason for lack of departmental preparation. He also defended some officers’ slowness in completing use-of-force reports, saying they had just completed 12- to 14-hour shifts.

“The word unprecedented has been overused in 2020,” he said, according to the newspaper. “It is underused when talking about the challenges we faced.”

The one recommendation Pazen did not agree to implement was for officers from other agencies to comply with use-of-force and weapons policies specific to the city of Denver.

Some activists, meanwhile, said the recommendations would not be sufficient to address the issues raised in the report.

“The idea that body cameras and transparency is going to solve the over-policing and excessive force against our minority communities is just not true,” Jes Jones, a criminal defense attorney and organizer with the Colorado chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, told the newspaper.

During the protests, Jones said, “There were protesters who described themselves as being hunted by police … as being corralled by police. The stories were consistent and egregious.”

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