Former Steamboat detective criticizes police department leadership |

Former Steamboat detective criticizes police department leadership

Former Steamboat detective criticizes police department leadership

Joel Rae

— An email from a former detective is being distributed in the Steamboat Springs community with damaging accusations against the chief and deputy chief of police.

When reached Friday, former Detective Dave Kleiber said he originally sent the 10-page “Open Letter to the City of Steamboat Springs” on Wednesday night to about 25 people, including current and former Steamboat police officers, city council members, the city manager and a Routt County commissioner. The letter is dated March 9.

Among the things in the letter, Kleiber describes an “Atmosphere of Fear and Intimidation,” “rampant sexism,” a “hostile work environment,” “bigotry” and “heavy-handed policing.”

At this time, the Steamboat Today is not publishing details about the accusations.

“If you read it, it speaks for itself for the atmosphere that exists at that agency, and I think our community deserves better than what it’s getting,” Kleiber said Friday. “There is nothing in there that is embellished. There is nothing in there that is made up.”

Chief Joel Rae said he could not comment on the letter and referred questions to City Manager Deb Hinsvark.

“We do take these complaints seriously, regardless of the source and the source’s history,” Hinsvark said.

She said the city would look into the allegations.

“Generally, in a situation like this, it’s an external review, and that’s the direction we’ll be going,” Hinsvark said. “I have tapped into some of our expert consultants to see who is the best to come here.”

No actions have been taken against Rae, such as being put on administrative leave.

City Council President Bart Kounovsky said he has seen the letter but could not comment.

According to Kleiber’s letter, he worked in law enforcement for almost 19 years and was at the Steamboat department from 2000 until November 2013.

“The city of Steamboat Springs affords a terminating employee the opportunity to participate in an ‘exit interview,’” Kleiber wrote in the letter. “I initially chose not to participate in that process. As I surpass the one-year anniversary of my resignation, I have had time to reflect on my employment with the Steamboat Springs Police Department and want to share the following thoughts on the Department and the current state of its leadership.”

Kleiber said Friday that he resigned from the police department to pursue a private investigator business. When asked whether he was asked to resign, he would not comment.

In his letter, Kleiber names 20 people “who could shed additional light on this matter.” The list includes former Steamboat police officers, including current Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins, numerous current and former police department employees, two attorneys and the executive director of a local nonprofit.

“Every person in there (the letter) will verify everything or parts of it,” Kleiber said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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