Denver Police Deploy Undercover “Shadow Teams” to Infiltrate Protests

Unicorn Riot recently received a heavily redacted Denver Police Crowd Control Manual, a document we requested under the Colorado Open Records Act in order to better understand the policing of protests in Denver. Now that we have also received an unredacted copy, we are able to take a closer look into the mechanics of police operations during protests, including undercover operations.

In the section “Rules of Conduct”, of the Denver Police Crowd Control Manual outlines the role of “Shadow Teams,” groups of undercover and/or plainclothes officers who infiltrate demonstrations to observe participants, gather intelligence, monitor “persons of interest”, and help target specific protesters for arrest.



Undercover and/or plainclothes police officers have been suspected and/or exposed at many demonstrations in Denver. It is not clear if all of them are acting as a “Shadow Team” or in some other capacity.

This video shows protesters outing undercover officers (possibly working in a “Shadow Team“) at a Black Lives Matter march in Denver on August 10, 2015, the one year anniversary of the police shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO.

Other police documents obtained by Unicorn Riot include reports written by undercover officers at protests:


We filed CORA requests to the Denver police about the use of “Shadow Teams” as well as the practice of “monitoring persons of interest”. Both requests were denied by Department of Safety Records Coordinator Mary Dulacki, who wrote that “Your request is denied because we believe that it would be contrary to the public interest to provide specific tactical information related to political demonstrations and/or crowd control.”

DPD Persons of Interest CORA Rejection

DPD Shadow Teams CORA Rejection

To see the leaked unredacted copy of Denver’s Crowd Control Manual click here.

Releasing the Denver Police Crowd Control Manual is part of our ongoing investigation into the policing of social movements. Using open records requests and other methods, we are currently compiling reports documenting the Denver Police Department.

If you would like to help support our efforts in obtaining more FOIA’s, CORA’s, and more, please consider donating: