The search is on for Denver’s new sheriff.
Following the October resignation of Patrick Firman after four turbulent years at the helm of the city’s jails, the Department of Public Safety late last year sought community and staff feedback to help guide the interview and selection process.
The agency also created a sheriff selection committee, announced Wednesday, that will play “a key role” in the hiring process. The committee is chaired by the interim public safety director, Murphy Robinson, and made up of community leaders to “ensure the residents of Denver are represented” in the process.
The committee includes the following members:
- Justin L. Cooper, Deputy Director, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition
- Capt. Chris Brown, Denver Sheriff Department
- Gerardo Lopez, Commissioner, Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships
- Terri House, Denver Food Rescue
- Denver City Councilman Paul Kashmann
- Denver City Councilwoman Jamie Torres
- Qusair Mohamedbhai, Partner, Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC
- Stephanie Donner, Executive Director, Emily Griffith Technical College
Selection committees were also used in 2018 with the search of a new Denver police chief, as well as in 2015 for a new sheriff, according to DOS spokeswoman Kelli Christensen.
The salary for the sheriff position is about $194,500, and the job application will remain posted until March 8. The position is open to applicants both inside and outside the Denver Sheriff Department.
Qualified candidates will be referred to the sheriff selection committee, which will oversee the interview process. Top applicants will be forwarded to Mayor Michael Hancock, who makes the final call on whom to appoint to the top spot. The process is expected to take four to six weeks, according to DOS.
Firman resigned on Oct. 14 and was replaced in the interim by Fran Gomez, the city’s first female sheriff. The morning after he stepped down, Hancock quietly appointed him to a new position with the city at a salary of $160,000.
Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca wants to strip away the mayor's appointing power. As part of that effort, she is heading up a charter change proposal that would allow voters to elect the county’s sheriff — a policy widespread throughout the state.
Deputy Sheriff and President of Denver Sheriff Lodge 27 Michael Jackson said in October that he and the 700 deputies he represents side with CdeBaca.
“We believe that if the position was elected, you would get the top-notch people,” he said. But once qualified candidates “realize they have no control over the sheriff’s department,” they drop out of the running — a pattern he’s witnessed “pretty much (his) whole career.”
“That’s when you end up with the Firmans," he said. "That’s how you end up with the new appointee person."