Former Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen named as Common Sense Institute Public Safety Fellow

By Duncan Luning

In 2019, HB19-1263 was signed into law by Jared Polis. This highly controversial bill reduced the charges for possession of up to four grams of drugs like fentanyl from a level four drug felony to a level one drug misdemeanor. Four grams of fentanyl is enough to kill thousands of people. 

However, in 2022, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen led a charge against this bill that he said limited his officers to simply writing tickets to known drug dealers who were caught with narcotics. He also critiqued Denver’s district attorney for releasing suspects who still had serious charges pending.

During Pazen’s time as Chief of Police, he created the Firearms Assault Shoot Team, Bias Motivate Unit, and the Human Trafficking Unit. In addition to this, he also created the Reintegration program. This program assists officers who were involved in critical incidents in finding careers and improving their personal lives.  

On Friday, the Common Sense Institute named Pazen as the 2023 Public Safety fellow. In a statement released by the CSI, Pazen said “I believe in utilizing research, innovation, data, and evidence-based methods to improve the quality of life, vibrancy and public safety for the people of Colorado.”

In addition to serving in the United States Marine Corps during the Gulf War, Pazen graduated from the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Executive Institute, the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy, and the Senior Management Institute for Police.

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About the Author:

Duncan Luning is Campfire Colorado’s Capitol Correspondent.