First Amendment expert: Denver police public records dispute ‘raises significant suspicion’

Denver7: A top advocate for open records in Colorado says he supports the Denver district attorney’s decision to investigate whether Denver police administrators violated the state’s open records law.

Denver7 Investigates was first to report about the open records dispute between DPD and the police union, which centered around a letter to the chief written by former district attorney Mitch Morrissey. The letter was highly critical of the department’s actions in arresting a woman for sexual assault who was ultimately released from jail and never charged. Although the chief sent a letter of his own in response, the department did not turn over either letter in response to two requests from the union for any correspondence between Morrissey and the chief about the woman’s arrest.

First amendment attorney Steve Zansberg tells Denver7 Investigates the situation “raises significant suspicion.”

“I think individuals within the Denver Police Department have a problem and I think the police department needs to investigate it and get to the bottom of what happened,” Zansberg said.

Denver police released the letters to the union days after Denver7 Investigates began asking questions about the correspondence – more than a month after the union filed its initial request.

“It raises significant suspicion that they were unable to find a letter until you told them you had a copy of it,” Zansberg said.

DPD deputy chief Matt Murray told Denver7 Investigates the department did not make any effort to intentionally hide the letters, and the chief’s secretary did not initially realize she had copies of the documents.

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