Tuesday, February 21, 2017

UPDATE: CSPD cop's letter says department is a mess

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 4:45 PM

click to enlarge Chief Carey is serving beyond his mandatory retirement date, and the problems keep piling up. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Chief Carey is serving beyond his mandatory retirement date, and the problems keep piling up.

UPDATE:
The Colorado Springs Police Protective Association issued this comment regarding the anonymous letter:
The Colorado Springs Police Protective Association is aware of an anonymous letter that has reportedly been distributed to numerous officers within the Colorado Springs Police Department. While the CSPPA does not respond to anonymous or anecdotal grievances, we did conduct a membership survey in July 2016 to better assist us in representing the interests of our nearly 900 members. These results were presented to Chief Carey, and were distributed to Mayor Suthers as well as members of City Council.

The CSPPA continues to have a very collaborative relationship with the Office of the Chief. We, as well as Chief Carey, are committed to addressing the needs of our membership via appropriate channels and within the construct of City government. Our survey revealed that the top employment issue for members is pay/benefits, followed by staffing. CSPPA representatives, with the active support of Chief Carey, continue to engage with Mayor Suthers to develop strategies to bring our department up to market average, while also addressing staffing as it relates to officer safety.

Further discussing the contents of an anonymous letter via the media serves the needs of the author only, who to the best of our knowledge, has not come forward to the CSPPA with any grievances. As such, we have no further comment at this time.

———————ORIGINAL POST 4:45 P.M. TUESDAY, FEB. 21, 2017————————

Things are so bad at the Colorado Springs Police Department that one officer has written an unsigned letter that's causing a stir among the ranks, calling out the chief and his minions about everything from pay to internal affairs investigations that span more than a year.

The letter also made it to our in-box, and probably lots of other media as well.

We've asked the CSPD for a comment, as well as City Council, and will update if and when we hear something.

For now, the only Council member we've heard from is Bill Murray, who said this via email:
I've been asking for a dashboard from the Police Chief's office on their status for a number of months.... We went from 18 percent of dropped [911] calls to 15 percent, so 15 out of 100 go unanswered. And the waiting time dropped from 30 seconds to 22. Think about that the next time you have an emergency. That is why I wanted the "TABOR excess" to go to "911/police and fire". Not stormwater! 
(Murray was referring to a ballot measure to be decided in the April 4 city election to allow the city to keep $6 million in excess revenue from 2016 to spend on flood control projects.)

Mayor John Suthers tells the Indy through a spokeswoman, "I have no comment other than to say I have a great deal of confidence in Chief [Pete] Carey and his Command staff."

Here's the unsigned letter:

The letter notes special status that Police Chief Carey enjoys because Mayor John Suthers supported a change in pension rules that allows Carey to continue working for the city, although he's long past his retirement date. We wrote about this in May 2016.

The letter's author talks about a lack of support from the chief for officers who are trying their best to do a hard and sometimes tricky job. The reference to the four officers accused of using excessive force involves a young African American man, Matthew Talley, who was pulled to the ground and held at gunpoint on May 6, 2015, outside the downtown courthouse after a passerby reported he was trying to jimmy a car's ignition. It was his own car, and he'd apparently forgotten the keys.

The chief didn't defend the officers, but rather on July 14, 2015, issued this statement:
The Colorado Springs Police Department received a letter from the ACLU which requested we start an internal investigation into a call for service from May 6, 2015. Prior to receiving this letter the Colorado Springs Police Department had not received a complaint regarding this call for service. CSPD has opened an internal investigation regarding this call for service.
The officers were cleared of wrongdoing, according to one person familiar with the case, but one officer quit because he felt unsupported.

In this week's Independent, we report on the latest problem to darken Carey's door — a disconnect in the CSPD's records system that prevented thousands of police reports to remain unknown to the District Attorney's Office and criminal defendants over a four-year period. Be sure to check in on that story at csindy.com as well as the print edition.

Meantime, here's a running tally of problems that have surfaced just in the last year alone under Carey's watch:
• The department temporarily lost its Colorado Police Officer Standards Training certification due to some officers failing to meet training standards. (“CSPD loses stamp of approval,” News, May 11, 2016);
• It was suspended from the military surplus program because the department lost track on paper of an M-16 rifle. (“Under the gun,” News, June 8, 2016)
• The department’s take-home vehicle list, which contained officers’ names, home addresses and license plate numbers, fell into the hands of drug dealers. (“Inside job?” News, May 11, 2016)
• Crime has climbed to its highest rate in several years, even as the numbers of officers has fallen and response times to top priority calls eroded to an average of 11 minutes. (“Are we less safe?” News, Aug. 24, 2016) Three weeks after the Indy’s report, Carey announced he would shut down some special units and reassign those officers to patrol.
• Carey allowed a long-time officer to remain on paid leave for at least five months, and qualify for a retirement pension, after Carey became aware he was under investigation in the Denver area for racketeering. (“Taking leave,” News, Sept. 21, 2016)

We asked the CSPD for a comment on the officer's letter, and received this from spokesman Lt. Howard Black:
The Chief has no comment to this or any anonymous letter. There are appropriate forums within the Colorado Springs Police Department that allows department members the opportunity to express both their positive and negative concerns. We have an active and robust Officers Advisory Committee, the Police Protective Association; and as always, an open door policy to the Chief's Office.
We've also asked the Colorado Springs Police Protective Association for a comment. If and when we hear a response, we'll update.

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