Denver District Attorney Beth McCann will not seek a third term

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann, the city’s first woman to serve as the county’s chief prosecutor, announced she won’t run for a third term.

While the election is not until November 2024, the Democratic primary is next June. Whichever Democrat wins the primary will most likely secure the position, McCann said, and she wants to give potential candidates time to decide whether to run.

During her time at the helm, many types of crime have risen in Denver. From McCann’s vantage point, the city’s criminal justice system is largely working.

Fentanyl overwhelmed the drug supply. Firearm purchases and gun crimes have risen. But many of the increases in crime are mirrored in cities nationwide.

“I believe the office is in great shape, with almost 300 committed, dedicated employees working every day to keep our city safe, prosecute criminal behavior, and provide support and comfort to thousands of crime victims,” she said.

The people of Denver will be in good hands under a future district attorney, she said, though many of the positions in the office are at-will appointments and could change under a new head prosecutor.

“I have accomplished the goals that I discussed when I was campaigning for this position, as well as some we’ve developed over the years since I’ve been here,” she said.

One of the big conversations she had when she took office in 2016 was over law enforcement accountability, excessive force and police killings.

“We have filed several cases of assault against police officers,” McCann said. “One was against a sheriff, actually, one against a police officer that went to trial. Both of those officers were acquitted, despite excellent work by our office.”

In other assault cases she pursued, officers have resigned from the department.

She’s charged officers for fraud in filling out their timesheets and attends weekly meetings with the Internal Affairs Bureau at the Denver Police Department to review cases that might involve criminal conduct.

District Attorney Beth McCann announces she will not run for a third term, from the law library in her office. July 20, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

When there’s an officer-involved shooting, she meets with the family of the person killed to explain the process and holds a meeting with the community after she makes a decision.

“Part of the role of the D.A. is being transparent when, and if, I’m not filing criminal charges,” she said.

These policies are not codified into law. It will be up to the next district attorney whether they continue.

McCann’s District Attorney’s Office has made some big changes.

The office started a domestic violence firearms relinquishment program — one of a kind in Colorado. She worked to reduce mass incarceration through alternatives to prison and created education initiatives on the role of race in the criminal justice system.

“Our warrant and marijuana forgiveness programs are providing second chances to people throughout the city,” she said. “We are now more transparent than ever with our accessible data dashboard, our community meetings, and our officer-involved shooting meetings.”

Staff has received salary increases, paid parental leave, performance reviews, and a peer-support program. And the department has recruited a facility dog, a golden retriever named Bodhi, to help young victims feel comfortable while they share their stories in court and to help ease trauma among employees.

“We have trained ourselves to help us recognize and eliminate racism and sexism in our work,” she said.

While many things are working in law enforcement, there’s much more to do, McCann said.

In the years to come, she hopes police spend more time on foot patrol in neighborhoods and the criminal justice system creates more alternatives to prison. She wants fewer drug dealers and guns on the streets and more trauma intervention for young people.

“I look forward to continuing to work over the next year and a half for this purpose and seeking justice and public safety for our community,” McCann said. “My goals for the office for the future are to focus on issues that continue to plague our community.”

Those include youth gun violence, fentanyl dealing, and the prevalence of guns in neighborhoods and businesses.

Her take is that the city’s head law enforcement officials — Police Chief Ron Thomas, Sheriff Elias Diggins and Director of Safety Armando Saldate are doing a “fine job.”

She’s excited about new Mayor Mike Johnston’s leadership and eager to work with him over the next year and a half, as she finishes her term.

Johnston, who has posted nearly every department head position, is not necessarily planning to hire a new police chief, fire chief and sheriff, his spokesperson Jordan Fuja told Denverite.

District Attorney Beth McCann chokes up as she announces she will not run for a third term, from the law library in her office. July 20, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Refusing to have a competitive hiring process has raised concerns among criminal justice advocates, as the Denver Gazette reported.

As McCann sees it, if Johnston’s certain he wants to keep these officials in their current roles, he ultimately should make that decision without a needlessly complicated process.

This will be the end of McCann’s lengthy career in public office.

McCann served four terms as a state representative for House District 8 before taking over the District Attorney’s Office in 2016.

“I’ve been in public service a long time,” she said. “I love it. I feel like I’ve been pretty successful. But you know, there are other things that I’m interested in. For example, I just climbed my 39th and 40th fourteeners a few weeks ago.”

Her next plans include hiking, skiing, serving on boards, and advocating against elephant poaching in Africa. But that could change.

“It is a year and a half off,” she said. “Who knows.”


Sign up to receive the latest local, national & international Criminal Justice News in your inbox, everyday.

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

Sign up today to receive the latest local, national & international Criminal Justice News in your inbox, everyday.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

This post was originally published on this site be sure to check out more of their content.