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Questions remain about readiness of unit that Deputy Micah Flick served on 

Trained enough?

click to enlarge Micah Flick - COURTESY EL PASO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy El Paso County Sheriff's Office
  • Micah Flick

While the Beat Auto Theft Through Law Enforcement (BATTLE) operational guidelines dictate procedures for such things as use of informants, special ops, firearms/weapons and search warrants, they don't go into detail on training, other than to describe the chain of command for training recommendations.

The interagency agreement between the Colorado Automobile Theft Prevention Authority (CATPA), which funds BATTLE, and the State Patrol says a training program is to "provide quality statewide auto theft training to enhance knowledge[,] skills and abilities in the realm of management, supervision, investigation, prosecution, analysis, and/or public information." The 2017 and 2018 interagency agreements call for each auto theft investigator funded by the CATPA grant "to attend a minimum of 6 of the 12 monthly Colorado Auto Theft Investigators (CATI) meetings per year."

Asked for the state's training records, the State Patrol's central records unit supervisor Kimberly Ramsey tells the Indy in a letter the State Patrol has no training planning or evaluation reports, because most training is put on by CATI, a nonprofit. But she noted that four Colorado Springs Police Department task force members attended CATI training in 2016, three in 2017 and four in 2018. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office sent none in 2016, five in 2017 and five in 2018. Ramsey also says that CSPD had five members who participated in BATTLE in 2017 and this year, while the Sheriff's Office had 11 (six "regulars" and five "occasional" members) during 2017 and 2018. So it's unclear whether every member attended training each year.

click to enlarge Jacob Abendschan - COURTESY EL PASO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy El Paso County Sheriff's Office
  • Jacob Abendschan

The current interagency agreement states that "all participants will maintain relevant law enforcement and grant management certifications" and that "all uniformed members have the knowledge, skills and abilities to investigate and conduct proactive auto theft operations."

The Independent is withholding names of officers not yet publicly identified, because they work undercover.

CSPD wouldn't release training records for the four task force officers of which the Indy is aware. (Of those, Marcus Yanez was injured on Feb. 5.) Nor would the CSPD release their years of service and whether any have resigned or retired since the shooting, citing provisions in the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act that allow records to be withheld if their disclosure is "contrary to the public interest" or if the records are part of an investigation. The CSPD also withheld records showing when the officers last qualified on the shooting range, as well as the 911 radio dispatch recording of the incident. No body-worn camera footage is known to exist.

click to enlarge Scott Stone - COURTESY EL PASO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy El Paso County Sheriff's Office
  • Scott Stone

The Sheriff's Office did release training records to the Indy going back three years for the seven BATTLE deputies the Indy determined were part of the task force. Among those, Sgt. Jacob Abendschan and Scott Stone were injured, and Micah Flick was killed on Feb. 5. All are certified under the Peace Officers Standards and Training board, which is mandated by state law. That training requires all full- and part-time officers and reserve officers in Colorado to be trained at least once every five years in such things as proper holds and restraints, anti-bias, community policing and de-escalation. They also had qualified on the shooting range with multiple weapons within the previous year.

Abendschan's records show he attended CATI's 42nd annual Rocky Mountain Vehicle Crimes Training Seminar in Breckenridge from May 7-11, 2017, as did another deputy, who also attended a rolling surveillance training that same month. Records show a third deputy attended 40 hours of "Colorado Auto Crimes Training" in May 2017. Records of training for the other deputies on the team don't reflect specific training in auto theft.

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