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New Denver police chief is sworn in

Chief Ron Thomas takes over with violent crime and community mistrust on the rise.

DENVER — Thirty-five years after becoming a Denver Public Safety Cadet and 33 years after joining the Denver Police Department, Ron Thomas' long climb to the top is finally complete after he was sworn in as Denver's newest police chief.

The 56-year-old Thomas is a lifelong Denver resident. Before becoming chief, he was in charge of DPD's patrol division. He has also been a district commander and once led the department's internal affairs bureau.  

He said his top priority as chief will be finding ways to reduce the city's stubbornly high violent crime rate and improve the department's response times to 911 calls at a time when the department is down nearly 200 officers, or 12% of its authorized force.

"I'm particularly concerned about homicides and non-fatal shootings, because those have the greatest impact on people," Thomas said. "I've thought of some innovative ways to repurpose officers so there are more officers able to respond to police calls. Identifying those calls that don't need a police response, whether reports can be taken online or over the phone, and really just reserve those urgent calls that officers need to respond to." 

Thomas said another top priority will be repairing the department's frayed relationship with many members of the community.  According to Thomas, it begins with listening better to Denver residents and having a better understanding of what they want and need from police.

"I personally want to have every individual who lives in the city understand that the Denver police department works for them," Thomas said.

Thomas also said he intends to maintain the department's focus on the city's hot spots, where a disproportionate amount of crime occurs.

He added that he has a number of ideas, some of which involve public awareness, for bringing down the extremely high number of stolen cars in Denver.

Thomas takes over leadership of DPD after Chief Paul Pazen abruptly retired about six weeks ago.

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