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Hancock picks Ky. candidate to be next DPD chief

8:47 PM, Oct 28, 2011   |    comments
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Mayor Michael Hancock named Robert White as the new chief of police during a news conference on Friday afternoon. White is the current police chief in Louisville, Ky.

"He has the community wherewithal, and he has the dedication necessary to restore the confidence and trust in our police department," Hancock said about White.

White will arrive in Colorado on Saturday.

"It's the toughest decision I've made in my young tenure," Hancock said.

White is black and when Hancock was asked about the importance of hiring a minority, Hancock said, "I went for the best candidate."

Hancock also said he is confident with his decision to hire someone from outside the Denver Police Department, rather than promoting from within.

"I think this candidate, whether he is internal or external skill-set wise, right now needs to come in and restore the trust with the public and begin to unleash that potential that is in the police department," Hancock said.

Nick Rogers with the Denver Police Protection Association says he would have rather seen one of his own colleagues get promoted.

"I am disappointed that they went outside," Rogers said. "I mean no disrespect to him, but I was hoping that they would come up with a chief from the inside, to be perfectly honest with you."

But Rogers says he still plans to support White.

"I welcome him," Rogers said. "I am glad we have a chief. I am going to give him all the respect that he deserves and I am going to do everything I can in my power to help this transition come off as positive as it can."

Hancock says when he talked to current Chief Gerald Whitman about the change, Whitman was supportive.

"He looked at me and said, 'Mayor, whatever you need me to do, I will be there,'" Hancock said.

9Wants to Know has learned that White rose to the top of the pack early on. A total of 61 people applied for the Denver job, but White stood out for several reasons.

White has been a police officer for 40 years and has been Louisville's chief for eight years.

9Wants to Know has learned he's well-respected and well-liked across the board and in the community. He is known as tough but fair.

As chief, he's fired 28 officers and disciplined 755 other officers. We've learned he's also willing to give an officer a second chance if they make a mistake.

That and other issues were very important to Hancock when he wanted a new chief.

White's starting salary will be $167,607 a year. Hancock says he was very impressed by White's professional and personal demeanor. He says he sent a "secret shopper," a mayoral staff member, to Louisville, to learn more about White.

9Wants to Know has learned White is a police chief that other cities across the country tried to hire and he really shook-up the department in Louisville when he started there as chief eight years ago.

The formal announcement about White was made at 1:30 p.m. in Louisville.

"Chief White has been a high-caliber leader who has made our city safer and who has earned tremendous respect across the city," Louisville, Ky. Mayor Greg Fischer said. "It's not a surprise that, over the years, many cities have tried to hire him. Denver is gaining a police chief of high integrity."

White did have one big challenge to deal with involving his personal life earlier this month when his adult son, who shares the same name, was arrested for hitting his wife. According to people we've spoken to, White was frank about his son's problems and he continued to do his job in Louisville while his son was making news.

Long-time news Anchor Scott Reynolds of WAVE-TV in Louisville told 9NEWS White made some drastic changes to the police department when he first took on the job.

One of the first things he did as chief in Louisville was to move around 100 officers from desk jobs and put them back out into the field.

White also launched a public integrity group that put more oversight on officers, and started an anonymous crime tip line.

"I think that's one thing, probably, anytime there's a change in police chiefs, the rank and file get nervous about, so I suspect that will happen in Denver. They'll be nervous about who might get switched," Reynolds said.

During his campaign to be Denver's mayor, Hancock promised to hire a new police chief. This was spurred after several police beatings were caught on video.

The soon-to-be-former Denver Police Chief Whitman first served as a police officer in 1976 in Ames, Iowa.

From 1978 to 1982, Whitman served as a police agent for the City of Lakewood in Colorado. In 1982, he became a Denver Police officer, moving up the ranks from patrol officer, field training officer, sergeant and lieutenant.

In January 1995, he was named captain of District 6, Denver's newest police district that represented Capitol Hill and downtown Denver.

In 1998, he was named division chief of patrol and oversaw all uniformed patrol operations. In 2000, the mayor named him as the chief of police, replacing Tom Sanchez.

Whitman holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Law Enforcement Administration with a minor in Sociology. Whitman completed his Masters Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Colorado Denver. He has also completed numerous specialized law enforcement training courses.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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