A couple of years ago, the Denver Police Department (DPD) was under fire for a spate of excessive force complaints. They wanted to change their image, so they began a massive public relations campaign, ramping up spending from $599 in 2011 to $136,783 in 2013.
The “media affairs unit” is made up of very well-paid employees who push their message in social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Last year the DPD spent $450,000 on six employees in the media team, which is far more than six cops on the beat would make.
However, an investigation by Denver7 ABC found that the DPD has been using funds derived from civil asset forfeiture to pay for much of this propaganda campaign. This may constitute a violation of policy, as those funds are only supposed to be used for equipment and training.
“According to the report more than $120,000 from that fund was used to buy equipment for DPD’s media relations unit, including an Apple desktop editing system, a MacBook Pro computer and even spent $22,000 developing an app for iPhone and Android.”
That’s not all. They spent $2,460 to pay for entries into a local Emmy competition. The funds for this bizarre act were requested under “police training,” even though there were no seminars or instructional time.
Detective Nick Rogers, head of Denver’s police union, has something to say about that: