This summer — at the peak of unrest over police brutality across the nation — protesters gathered outside Denver District Attorney Beth McCann’s house demanding she release video evidence in a police shooting.
While the protesters were right to demand rapid public transparency (a new state law says body-worn police cameras must be released a few weeks after an incident), the target for their protest that evening has spent much of her almost four years in office fighting against racism in the justice system.
As McCann took over the Denver DA’s office in 2017 she asked the prosecutors in her office to read “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” She commissioned a study of prosecutions in her office to determine if racial bias is driving incarceration of minorities in this city (much to her dismay the study is not completed yet).
McCann expanded Denver’s youth diversion program to create a way for young adults to avoid a criminal record if they took accountability for their actions and stayed out of trouble for a probationary period. McCann said she has been tracking racial statistics in the diversion program and has been pleased that people of color in Denver are overrepresented in the program, meaning it’s not just being offered to white offenders, which has been the case in other jurisdictions when they launch diversion programs.
All of this is to say that the incumbent Denver District Attorney isn’t just trying to appease those calling for racial justice in the wake of the deaths of Elijah McClain, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor; she has been diligently working on the issue in her office for years.
We’re inspired by her work, and we hope Denver voters will give her another term in office this November.
McCann is facing Libertarian candidate William F. Robinson III in the race to be the top prosecutor for the 2nd Judicial District. Robinson is a long-time Denver attorney. He used his time with The Denver Post editorial board to pitch the importance of creating a viable third party in American politics – a sentiment with which we agree. However, Robinson’s odd and persistent focus during the meeting on his belief that the white settlers of America’s West are being unfairly cast as villains in the retelling of conflict with Native Americans in the early days of Colorado, convinced the board he is not the right third-party candidate to start that trend.
Last year McCann did have a setback in her office when an investigation found a top prosecutor in her office had harassed and bullied other employees. McCann told us on Thursday that the employee in question resigned and that since then there has been no other similar incident in the office. McCann took the situation seriously commissioning an investigation into the alleged incidents.
If McCann is rehired by voters in Denver, we are certain she will continue to make improvements in the prosecutor’s office. While McCann refused to reopen several controversial cases of police killing suspects that her predecessor had refused to file, she has filed charges against police in other cases.
And McCann said she is open to reviewing how her office handles officer-involved investigations. She goes to almost every crime scene when a police shooting has occurred, she said, and a prosecutor from her office is present at the interviews of witnesses. However, McCann notes that her office does have a working relationship with the Denver Police Department, often working together to build cases against suspected criminals.
She notes that can be viewed as a conflict when it comes to prosecuting police for crimes, and said she’s open to working with lawmakers and the community to see if changes need to be made to the process.