More complaints surface as investigation finds former Oak Creek police chief behaved ‘unprofessionally’

Former Oak Creek chief of police Ralph Maher is sworn in to his position in 2015. Maher retired from his position last month following an independent investigation into his conduct at an all-male entertainment show at the Colorado Bar in January.
Archive photo

An independent investigation into the now-retired Oak Creek police chief has sustained allegations of unprofessional conduct in relation to his actions at an all-male entertainment show earlier this year.

The “Magic Hunks” performed Jan. 21 at the Colorado Bar in Oak Creek. According to witnesses, the former chief of police, Ralph Maher, was in uniform and on duty inside the establishment just before the performance began.

Patrons attending the show alleged Maher acted inappropriately as he attempted to enforce state liquor code rules barring acts that simulate “sexual intercourse, masturbation, sodomy, bestiality, oral copulation, flagellation or any sexual acts which are prohibited by law.”

Complaints filed against Maher following the show prompted town officials to place Maher on restricted duties and hire Paul Schultz — a principal for the Denver-based Municipal Police Consultants firm with 40 years of law enforcement experience — to investigate the former chief’s conduct.

Obtained through a public records request, Schultz’s final report found Maher’s “conduct at the Colorado Bar during the ‘Magic Hunks’ male revue” to be “unprofessional and caused an unnecessary scene reflecting poorly on the town of Oak Creek, the Oak Creek Police Department, Chief Maher and law enforcement in general.”

The report also found Maher did not activate his body camera while he was inside the Colorado Bar during the Magic Hunks show — a violation of state law.

State law in Colorado requires police officers to wear and activate a body-worn camera or dash camera when responding to a call for service or during any interaction with the public initiated by a police officer, “whether consensual or nonconsensual, for the purpose of enforcing the law or investigating possible violations of the law,” according to the report.

“But (Maher) did not activate the body-worn camera in an attempt to ‘build trust’ with the bar owner … he activated his body worn camera after the show,” according to the report.

Beyond the findings related to Maher’s conduct at the Magic Hunks show, Shultz’s investigation highlighted additional complaints against Maher discovered during the course of the inquiry.

Schultz’s report included one incident relayed to him by an unidentified individual who said Maher intervened in a May 20 party despite the gathering being outside town limits. According to the investigation, Maher could hear the music in town and said he felt it was too loud.

“Chief Maher came back a second time when the music wasn’t turned down at which point (the individual) asked (Maher) to leave, and he became very agitated and said he was concerned about the fire and called the fire department to put out the fire,” the report states.

According to Shultz’s investigation, “During this heated discussion …. Chief Maher stated, ‘kiss my a–, see you in h—, I don’t have to be professional if I don’t get professional back, I don’t have to f—— leave,’ and used the word f— multiple times.”

Following the incident, the report added, Oak Creek Town Manager David Torgler said Maher spoke to him “and admitted that his conduct was unprofessional.”

Another complaint included in Schultz’s investigation pertains to how Maher pursued individuals driving in excess of the town’s speed limit. The complaint alleged the former chief would face a speeding car in the opposite direction before activating his lights and driving “partially out of his lane into the opposing lane of traffic to slow down the speeding car.”

When Schultz interviewed Maher about this complaint, “he told (Shultz) that yes, he (did this) on approximately 16 to 20 occasions in the last year and that, ‘It’s not a smart thing — not a good thing — will not ever happen again,” the inquiry states.

Maher announced he was retiring from the chief of police position at the end of March. He subsequently wrote in a letter to the editor of the Steamboat Pilot & Today, stating he “retired as chief of police in Oak Creek after nine years of service.”

Also obtained through a public records request, Maher’s separation agreement shows he agreed to “retire from his employment as the Town of Oak Creek Chief effective” March 21.

The document, which was signed by Maher, stipulates that he will receive $5,678 for vacation time, $5,040 for health insurance and an additional $15,295. The agreement also forbids the former chief from applying for or seeking employment in any capacity with the town.

On Tuesday, the 57-year-old Maher said his future “is not clear.”

“I could go back into law enforcement. I can go back and become a chief somewhere if I so want to. It is my choice right now not to,” Maher said. “I am looking at a bunch of different things that are not badge carrying, gun toting, full-time sworn law enforcement.”

Read the full Independent Report on Chief Maher’s alleged misconduct and his separation agreement with the town below:

2024-03-22 Separation Agree… by reporter.tballantyne

2024-03-22 Separation Agree… by reporter.tballantyne

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