Denver Police District 5, encompassing Stapleton, Montbello and Green Valley Ranch, has a few new faces on staff. Commander Ron Thomas joined District 5 in late summer 2015 and Community Resource Officer Armando Cruz joined in December 2015.
Commander Ron Thomas grew up in Southeast Denver. His mother worked for the Denver Department of Social Services, which inspired his career assisting others. In college he was deployed as a public safety cadet and decided he wanted to be a police officer.
Prior to joining District 5, Thomas was in charge of the Fugitive Unit tracking down and taking into custody violent criminals around Denver. From there he went on to serve as commander of Internal Affairs. “I thought I was providing the greatest assistance to Denver at the Fugitive Unit because I was taking all these dangerous people off the streets. When I went to Internal Affairs, I realized there that I was providing the greatest benefit because the truth is not many people have an encounter with a violent or dangerous criminal, but everybody has an interaction with a police officer. I felt like through addressing complaints that people filed against officers, I was able to direct officers’ behavior and make a bigger difference.”
Thomas focuses on strong citizen-police relationships within District 5. He attends nearly all of the community meetings and has revamped the Top Cop program, where residents vote on cops who have been nominated for excellent police work. Oftentimes, the public does not select the officer who tracked down a robber or had the most arrests, but the officer who saw a kid walking down the street carrying a basketball and shot baskets with him or the officer who joined a snowball fight with a group of kids.
As an African American and someone who works in law enforcement, Thomas has seen both sides of the distrust that exists between police and the African American community. He acknowledges many police interactions do not go as they should. “I can see how the distrust began and festers. I am in a really good position to improve that,” he says. He makes sure to explain to his officers how an African American might perceive a police interaction. He believes it’s essential for an officer to explain why he or she is doing something and explain it is because of their job, not because of race. Thomas’s motto in life personally and professionally is LEED: Listen and explain with equity and dignity.
Thomas looks forward to continuing good police work in District 5. He is excited about the community, which wants to have a relationship with the police department. “They want to let us know what their problems are and want to be involved in how their particular neighborhoods are policed and I think that’s important for them to be our eyes and ears.”
Community Resource Officer Armando Cruz was born in Chicago and grew up in Arizona. He moved to Denver in 1995 to become an officer. He’s done every part of policing from traffic enforcement to canine explosives to now community resource officer. He applied for the position to work directly with residents.
“This neighborhood is unique in the closeness of the neighbors. Everyone really communicates very well with one another. Everyone has a strong desire to look out for one another,” Cruz says.
Cruz also attends all of the community meetings and is available to answer any questions about safety concerns or police operations. District 5 uses The Hub at Northfield as a satellite office, where residents can stop by and get to know their officers. Visit The Hub at 8230 Northfield Blvd., #1350. Contact Community Resource Officers Armando Cruz or Sherikera Heflin at Armando.Cruz@denvergov.org or Sherikera.Heflin@denvergov.org.
Updated Denver Police News App Now Available
The newly released “Denver Police News” alerts users of news, major road closures, traffic accidents, and other updates about the City and County of Denver. Also contact District Five officers directly via the app. Search “Denver Police News” in the App Store.