Robert White, the current Chief of Louisville’s Metro Police Department has been selected as the new chief of police for the Denver Police Department. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced the appointment at a news conference at 3:00 p.m. (RMDT). Mayor Greg Fischer confirmed White’s departure, here in Louisville, a half-hour later.
We opted for the Henny Youngman headline, because our first choice might appear a bit obscure for Louisville readers: “Is Denver’s Mayor Michael Hancock really that stupid?”
In the past several years, White has been turned down for the chief of police positions in Dallas, Atlanta and Chicago. He appointed Chief of Police of the LMPD in January 2003, by then-mayor Jerry Abramson. White was the city's first black police chief, with instructions to merge the former city and county police departments.
Denver's mayor Michael Hancock has asked current Police Chief Gerald Whitman to step out of that role to bring “a culture of change” to the police department. Whitman joined the Denver Police Department in 1982 and has served as Denver's Chief of Police since 2000. When asked for more perspective on Whitman's departure, Hancock told Denver’s 9NEWS, "I think the cultural challenges that face the police department have become so deep engrained. And so...I just looked at it and said, 'It's time for a new voice. It's time for a new energy. And it's time to go to a different level.'" Chief Whitman is White; while the new Chief White is Black.
Mayor Fischer praised White’s leadership, calling him a “change agent.” “Chief White has been a high-caliber leader who has made our city safer and who has earned tremendous respect across the city,” Fischer said.
Fischer said he has begun the process of identifying potential new chiefs from both within and outside the Louisville Metro Police Department. He said he would be seeking input from citizens, police and national experts, and that he will soon name an interim chief to assume the day-to-day duties until a permanent chief can be named.
White said the decision to leave Louisville was difficult but that he felt that he has achieved all he could in Louisville and he looks forward to new challenges in Denver.
Back when White applied for the job as police chief in Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that White told him that he was raised by a single mother in Washington, D.C., around gangs, adding: “I don’t accept illegal activity by anybody because of their circumstances.” White said his Louisville department is considered a desirable place to work. “What attracts officers and keeps them there is the pride they have in their department," he said. "We are a flagship agency and members are proud to be there. Officers feel relatively respected. They have equipment and they have input in what we do.”
While we hesitate to report anything that might dissuade Mayor Hancock from taking Chief White off our hands here in Louisville, we remind readers that White’s statement, “Officers feel relatively respected,” is a matter of extreme conjecture among the rank and file LMPD cops.
Louisville cops have their own web site, LMPD, where they periodically and anonymously vent their true feelings about the Louisville Police command staff. We previously wrote an article—Is Louisville's Police Chief Robert White Really That Stupid?— in the Louisville Examiner which was reprinted on LMPD, and among the scores of comments were the following:
“My friends, I too have a dream just as a famous man once did. Let's have racial equality and justice within the LMPD, lets get rid of the racist leadership and have equal justice for all. And PLEASE, oh PLEASE, Atlanta PD, PLEASE, hire White and ask him to take his crooked cronies with him, only then will I too see the promised land of equality and justice and a Police dept that actually fights crime!!!”
“I agree, there is a racial issue here. When you look at the discipline handed to Jackie for a felony vs. the firing of several Caucasian officers for poor judgment and the promotion of several under-qualified black officers to the command staff vs. the demotion of a well-liked and well-respected white major, one cannot help to see a race factor. I’m sure some may view this as politically incorrect, but it is a fact.”
“I am moving my family to another county where it is safe and the Police can do their jobs without fear of racist and or politically correct persecution. Louisville, you have no idea of the crime that is actually occurring here and what little is being done about it.”
“Have you noticed how many of Abramson's appointees have been found to be corrupt, incompetent, unqualified (all the above)? Why would anyone have thought that White would have been any different?”
“I agree that incompetence needs to be dealt with and that both need to be fired. The story here is not about Hollingsworth or Marlowe, but about White's failure to take aggressive steps to rout this type of behavior from the department. It is about White's malfeasance not about the obvious bad and/or criminal conduct of the officers.”
“To answer the original question......yes he is that stupid”
In what some might see as “sour grapes,” Chief White told WAVE-3’s Janelle MacDonald that he really never “actively” sought either the police chief position in Atlanta or the one he was up for in Dallas. Both opportunities “came to him,” White said, and he pursued them because his boss, Mayor Jerry Abramson, did not seek re-election.
So there you have it. After being turned down for the chief of police positions in Dallas, Atlanta and Chicago, Bob White gets Denver’s new Black mayor to give him a job. Of course, we all wish him great success in his new position; once he gets used to the thin air of the mile-high city. If any of Chief White’s fellow LMPD cops want to remind folks of how much he’ll be missed, they are invited to leave a comment below.
UPDATE: Ed Springston nails the story.
WDRB’s Tamara Evans reports:
Louisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions).