Boulder’s search for a new police monitor continues

Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash

Thursday, February 16, 2023 (Updated Saturday, Feb. 18)

The search for a new police monitor will continue in Boulder, as the city announced Wednesday it would not hire any of the three previously identified finalists.

“After careful consideration,” a city press release read, “a determination was made that none of the candidates had the mix of skills required for where Boulder is in its oversight journey.”

The announcement comes during a period of intense public scrutiny of the police watchdog process in Boulder. It began with the public resignation of a founding member of the Police Oversight Panel after a rare disagreement with Police Chief Maris Herold over how to punish a detective and four superiors who failed to investigate dozens of cases over three years, allowing the statute of limitations to expire on some.

That revelation was immediately followed by a fight to seat new panelists, two of whom were protested by the police union, chief and supporters in the community. A split council approved new members in late January after twice delaying a vote, drawing five complaints from community members in the process.

Boulder’s city council already passed an emergency ordinance intended to allow panelists to speak more freely about their work, and promised more reforms later in the year. What form those will take is unclear, as the council and community are split over the role of civilian oversight.

At a Jan. 11 community forum, all three previous finalists for the monitor position recommended an appeal process be instituted for when the POP and police chief — who has final say on discipline — reach different conclusions about officer misconduct.

The finalists included a current police monitor in Albany, New York; a member of Colorado’s police officer training and standards office; and a former investigator for NYPD’s civilian oversight body. They were named January 4, after a national search that began when the city’s first monitor, Joseph Lipari, left for a job in Los Angeles in September.

“I appreciate the excellent candidates who applied for the Independent Monitor position during our initial search,” Boulder’s equity manager, Aimee Kane, was quoted as saying in Wednesday’s release. “Unfortunately, we have not yet found a candidate with the specific skills and experience to fit this highly specialized staffing position.

“We look forward to a new influx of applications as we continue our national search for the right person,” Kane said. Forty-three candidates applied in the first round.

In an email with a resident, shared with Boulder Beat, Kane wrote that the candidates had some but not all of the “skills” the city was looking for, which includes “in-depth experience conducting internal police investigations, supporting a civilian oversight panel, a high level of cultural competence, and has a good understanding or and lives mindful racial equity practices.”

“Of course there are many other key attributes of importance, but those are some of the top,” Kane wrote. “This is a challenging position to fill with a small pool of professionals across the country.”

An interim monitor, Florence Finkle, a consultant with OIR Group and member of the board of directors for the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement. Finkle will be assisted by Farah Muscadin, a former director of police oversight for Austin, where city manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde worked before coming to Boulder.

“We wanted to be sure the panel was in good hands and fully supported at this critical time,” Kane said in the release.

The independent monitor works with the POP and the police department to review allegations of officer misconduct and make disciplinary recommendations, as well as suggestions related to policies, practices and training gleaned from observing complaints over time. The monitor and police chief are both under the auspices of Boulder’s city manager office.

This is not the first time Boulder has reopened a search for top officials. In June 2021, two finalists for city attorney were named and publicly interviewed, only for city council to reopen the process the following month. Teresa Tate was hired from Longmont in October of that year.

— Shay Castle, @shayshinecastle or on Mastodon at

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1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. So what exactly is the mix of characteristics that Boulder is looking for? I have to be very skeptical based on past experience that what Boulder is looking for is somebody who is compliant and easy to manipulate. One thing Boulder doesn’t like is critical review. But this position requires somebody who will provide serious critical review.

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