Denver police chief set to retire

Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen is retiring from the force, Mayor Michael Hancock’s office announced Wednesday.

Pazen’s retirement is effective Oct. 15, and current Division Chief Ron Thomas will become acting chief starting Sept. 6, according to the mayor’s office.

Pazen, who’s worked for the department for 28 years, has been chief since 2018, overseeing the force during multiple controversies and reform efforts.

“It’s been an honor to serve the people of this city, and I couldn’t be prouder to have done it alongside these dedicated women and men of the department who’ve answered the call to protect the residents of Denver no matter the circumstance,” Pazen said in a statement. “It’s important to me that the next police chief take the reins at this time so the department and our officers are well positioned for the future of policing in our community.”

Hancock thanked Pazen in a statement “for answering the call to serve, and for his leadership of our community’s police department during these difficult past few years in the life of our city and our country.”

Pazen’s gross pay in 2021 was $237,891, according to city documents. Thomas, who will serve as acting chief, had a gross pay of $197,625 last year.

The city faced a pair of lawsuits – one of them resulting in a $14 million settlement – over the department’s handling of protesters after George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis in May 2020.

A grand jury is also investigating an incident where three officers shot a suspect and six bystanders in July.

The department previously told The Center Square that it has been implementing programs "de-emphasizing or eliminating police contact" for any 911 calls stemming from health, medical, or drug-related issues since 2016.

This is a breaking story and may be updated.

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