Finalists named for Denver independent monitor

Two finalists will vie for Denver’s top police oversight position, which has been open for nearly two years.

The Citizen Oversight Board named Mary Claire Opler and Lisabeth Pérez Castle as finalists for the independent monitor position. The previous monitor, Nick Mitchell, left the position Jan. 4, 2021. The board restarted its search for his replacement on March 1 after rejecting three other finalists.

The independent monitor is tasked with overseeing Denver police and sheriff internal affairs investigations as well as issuing analytical reports on high-profile incidents, like the police response to the 2020 George Floyd protests.

Castle worked as a Colorado public defender for 12 years before transitioning to private defense practice in 2000, according to her biography released by the oversight board. During her career, she worked to bring child care to Denver’s courts, mentored Latino students and served on several local boards. She was named Colorado Hispanic Bar Association Lawyer of the Year in 2022.

In a video posted by the Citizen Oversight Board, Castle spoke about growing up the child of Cuban immigrants and her 37 years living in Denver.

Castle said, if hired, she would prioritize seeking funding for the office, improving access to police and sheriff records, and increasing time spent speaking with community members.

Opler oversees police and fire department internal affairs investigations at the Sacramento Office of Public Safety Accountability. In that role, she investigates police shootings and serves as a liaison with the local civilian police review board. She previously served as a prosecutor in Washington and worked as a police officer in San Francisco. She also worked in emergency response for the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In her video, Opler emphasized how similar her current work is to that of the independent monitor. Her main priority would be to better integrate community input into the office’s work while also preserving law enforcement’s trust in the process.

“I like to think of myself, because of my background, as a Swiss Army knife in that I’m ready for anything and I have the tools to handle whatever terrain we end up on,” she said.

A committee selected by the Citizen Oversight Board reviewed the pool of applicants for the independent monitor position and selected the finalists, who have interviewed with city and community leaders.

The Citizen Oversight Board is hosting two events for the public to meet the finalists:

  • 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church, 1373 Grant St.
  • 6-7 p.m. Wednesday virtually at

The board will make its choice and send that candidate to the City Council for final approval.

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