After public outcry and a conflict of interest, Steamboat Springs City Council will reconsider police investigation vote

Scott Franz
A large mat welcomes visitors to the Steamboat Springs Police Department headquarters on Yampa Street downtown.
John F. Russell

— Following a public outcry and a determination that a council member should not have voted on the issue last week due to a possible conflict of interest, the Steamboat Springs City Council will reconsider its vote not to release more information about an internal police investigation.

The revote on the issue will take place at the council’s next meeting Tuesday, and recent interviews with some council members suggest the council may be poised to reverse course and release more information about the probe, owing partly to recent public feedback.

Councilman Scott Ford said Tuesday night the council has recently received more than 30 emails from constituents who want the council to reconsider its vote.

Some community members have called the decision of a slim majority of the council not to seek the investigation summary a vote against government transparency.

They also have told the council that, without more information about the investigation — which led to the departures of the city’s top cops and city manager — it will be difficult for the community to move beyond the probe.

Ford said he feels the council is now hearing “loud and clear” from its constituents that doing nothing is not an option.

“I’m encouraged we’re revisiting this,” Ford said.

Council President Walter Magill also suggested the revote may result in the release of more information about the investigation, which was launched after former members of the police department accused the top police officials of creating a hostile work environment.

Magill said after hearing from many members of the public in recent days who opposed City Council’s initial decision, he wants to help “remove the cloud” the investigation has cast over the police department and the community.

He added he will now support a more thorough summary and the release of more information if doing so can help remove that cloud and end accusations from some community members of a “cover up” of the investigations’ findings.

The council itself still has not seen many of the findings of the investigation.

The council president’s comments Tuesday were a departure from his recent statements that he felt the book had mostly been closed on the issue and the people who were calling for more information about the investigation were part of a “vocal minority.”

“We’ve been getting a lot of public comment,” Magill said.

The council will redo the vote on the police investigation without Councilwoman Heather Sloop.

Sloop, who voted last week not to seek more information about the police investigation, failed to disclose that she has recently been taking flying lessons from one of the main subjects of the probe.

Sloop’s fellow council member’s agreed she should not have voted on the issue due to the perceived conflict of interest.

Sloop apologized to the council and the public for not disclosing her relationship with former Deputy Police Chief Bob DelValle, her flight instructor, who left the department just before a vague summary of the investigation was released.

Sloop said she did not discuss the police investigation with DelValle when she took two flight lessons with him to and from Grand Junction and Rifle.

“I do apologize for not disclosing this,” Sloop said. “This was truly a misstep on my part.”

Magill said if Sloop’s vote were allowed to stand, it would continue to cloud the issue because of the perceived conflict of interest.

Concerned about liability issues and potentially hurting a police department in the process of healing, Sloop voted last week with Magill and council members Robin Crossan and Tony Connell not to release more information about the police investigation.

Council members Ford, Jason Lacy and Kathi Meyer have been calling for a more thorough summary to bring closure to the investigation and help the council and public better evaluate changes that are being made at the police department.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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