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Denver, Aurora community groups want statewide task force on police accountability

Activists from Denver and Aurora met on the west steps of the Capitol in response to several recent police shootings in the metro area.

DENVER — Leaders of community groups in Denver and Aurora announced plans Monday to create a statewide task force dedicated to police accountability and transparency.

“Violence is on the uptick, whether we’re talking youth violence, officer-involved shootings -- it does not matter what the violence is. Violence begets violence," said Candice Bailey, activist and member of the Aurora Police Oversight Task Force.

Bailey joined members of the Denver Task Force to Reimagine Policing and Public Safety and the Denver Justice Project on the west steps of the Capitol Monday afternoon.

“There must be a safe mechanism for the citizens and the people who come to this beautiful, progressive state to call out the things that are wrong finally and to create a web of accountability that we have never seen before in the history of this state or nation," Bailey said.

Bailey said the purpose of the new task force will be to "oversee and engage with everything policing" in Colorado.

“I think we need to just look at a culture of trigger-happiness that pervades our police departments," said Dr. Robert Davis of the Denver Task Force to Reimagine Policing and Public Safety.

Davis said the various community groups have been working separately for the past couple of years to achieve similar goals. A recent string of police shootings in the metro area prompted the groups to come together. 

“We have to look at the totality of the rise in police violence toward citizens, period, and figure out how do we solve that problem," Davis said. "We have come up with solutions and we’re asking for our elected officials and for the community as a whole to say, hey you know what, how do we get behind those reasonable, well-thought-out solutions?”

Davis highlighted the need to come up with additional responses to emergency situations outside of sending police officers.

"Law enforcement is trained with very specific tools, very specific tactics, and if we send them into situations, situations that could easily be handled by other professionals, they're going to use the training and the tools that they have available to them, and we're going to continue to see these types of situations over and over," Davis said.

The community leaders who spoke Monday said they planned to meet again Tuesday to discuss the new task force.

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