Denver Mayor Michael Hancock appointed Murphy Robinson on Wednesday to lead the city’s Department of Public Safety, a pick Robinson's predecessor said was the right one.
“Murphy is an exceptional leader and has a proven track record,” former safety chief Troy Riggs told Colorado Politics in a text message Wednesday afternoon. “He was my recommendation for the position and will continue to build upon the great work of the 4,400 members of public safety.”
Robinson, whose appointment is effective immediately, oversees the sheriff, police, fire and 911 departments, as well as the city’s emergency communications center, among other operations.
“Murphy has shown time and time again the level of innovative thinking, managerial performance and focus on equity that the people of Denver expect from their city government, and I know he will continue to lead the way as the permanent Executive Director of Public Safety,” Hancock said in a statement.
“As a former law enforcement officer himself," Hancock added, "he knows firsthand what it takes to keep our police, fire and sheriff departments performing at their very best, and I have every confidence that he will continue to be a phenomenal leader for this critical department.”
“I am honored to serve as Public Safety’s Executive Director,” Robinson said in a statement. “We are in the midst of a unique time in city and across the globe, and Public Safety staff are at the forefront. I look forward to leading this team as we navigate this new environment and plan for the future.”
Robinson served as deputy mayor in 2019 for roughly eight months before transitioning to his role as the chief operating officer for the city. Prior to that position, Hancock had appointed him in August 2017 as executive director for the Department of General Services.
As head of General Services, Robinson helped build engagement with small, women- and minority-owned businesses, according to city documents, as well as save $1.5 million in the utility operations budget. He also created the Energy Office and Security Office to help support Hancock’s energy initiatives and enhance safety in city facilities.
“I trust Murphy,” Denver City Councilman Kevin Flynn, who sits on the council’s safety committee, told Colorado Politics in January.
Councilwomen Amanda Sawyer and Candi CdeBaca want to make sure, in the future, that the council approves who sits in the city’s top safety seats — not only the seat of the public safety director, but also the sheriff, chief of police and fire chief.
Currently, Denver’s mayor has sole power in selecting those positions, but the two councilwomen are working to bring the matter to the voters as a ballot initiative this November.
The mayor’s office has said the move is “more about politics than anything else,” and that the proposal “will potentially impede the Mayor’s ability to identify and recruit the most qualified individuals to serve in the administration on behalf of the people in our city."
“If you can’t get seven members of a 13-member council to support someone who is going to be put in one of the top cabinet positions in the most powerful city in the state of Colorado,” Sawyer said in an interview earlier this month, “then they shouldn’t be in that position in the first place.”
With Robinson’s appointment, there are still two major holes in Denver’s public safety department. Both the sheriff and fire departments are being helmed respectively by interim leaders Fran Gomez and Todd Bower.