Letter to the editor: Former City Council members address current council about police department allegations | SteamboatToday.com

Letter to the editor: Former City Council members address current council about police department allegations

— Letter to Steamboat Springs City Council:

An 11-page letter has been circulating throughout our community for the past several days. The “Open Letter to the City of Steamboat Springs” written by former city of Steamboat Springs Detective Dave Kleiber contains numerous and specific allegations of sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, civil rights violations and possible criminal activity on the part of Chief of Police Joel Rae and Deputy Chief Bob DelValle.

These allegations are extremely serious, and they need to be taken very seriously. Any process that fails to examine fully the falsehood or truth of these allegations would be inconsistent with the values of our community and could threaten the safety of our citizens.

Law enforcement officers are entrusted with unique power. Their ability to impact the lives of our citizens is unlike and above that of other elected officials or leaders in our community. The potency of their power consequently demands the highest standards of conduct and scrutiny by overseeing officials.

Common sense dictates that not all allegations require the same action or level of scrutiny. But because we believe the totality of the allegations contained in the Kleiber letter exceeds a threshold involving abuse of power and authority we therefore believe that the alleged offenders must be relieved of their line responsibilities and placed on leave, with pay, while an immediate, independent and full investigation is conducted by an outside party with no affiliations with any community leaders, the City Council or the police department. Failing to put the alleged offenders on leave will damage the credibility of all our governing institutions, mostly importantly the city’s police department.

Our City Council and senior-appointed city officials are entrusted with maintaining civic, legal and ethical integrity in our system of city government. Allowing the two top leaders of the department who are alleged to have engaged in a variety of illegal, unethical and immoral acts to remain on the job and in positions of leadership within the department during an investigation jeopardizes the credibility of law enforcement in our community and calls into question the judgment of those elected officials who have been given the responsibility by city voters to oversee our police department.

Any investigation must protect all potential witnesses in coming forward without fear of retaliation or damage to their personal and professional reputations and must immediately secure any potential evidence.

An impartial investigation concluding the allegations are false will restore the credibility that is critical to a properly functioning police department. An investigation finding the allegations are true should necessarily result in the officers in question being permanently removed from their positions and, to the extent their actions were in violation of law, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

As a proper investigation unfolds, we call on the citizens of our community to reserve judgment until the investigation is complete and due process has taken its course. It must be clear to city leaders that any attempt to sweep these allegations under the rug is an unacceptable outcome and will maintain a damaging cloud over our police department, its leadership, law enforcement efforts and all our local governing bodies.

Cari Hermacinski, former Steamboat Springs City Council president, Routt County commissioner

Garrett Wiggins, Routt County sheriff

Loui Antonucci, former Steamboat Springs City Council president

Paula Cooper Black, former Steamboat Springs City Council president pro-tem

Mary Brown, former Steamboat Springs City Council president

Kathy Connell, former Steamboat Springs City Council president

Paul Strong, former Steamboat Springs City Council president

Jon Quinn, former Steamboat Springs City Council president pro-tem

Ken Brenner, former Steamboat Springs City Council president

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