Sheriff, deputy raised concerns about Steamboat school resource officer
Steamboat Springs — The investigation into the conduct of school resource officer Kristin Bantle was prompted in part by Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins and a deputy who have children in the schools.
Following an internal investigation by the Steamboat Springs Police Department, Bantle was told June 8 she would no longer serve as the school resource officer.
Wiggins said Tuesday that about month ago his son started asking about the meaning of several profane words.
Wiggins’ son told him he heard the words from Bantle when she came in to talk to his Steamboat Springs Middle School class about bullying and harassment. Wiggins said his son was told he needed to know what the words were because they were a form of harassment.
“I thought that was extremely odd,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins said he told his son to let him know if anything else occurred. Wiggins said he did not immediately do anything with the information from his son because he wanted to see if there were any other complaints or concerns.
A couple weeks later, Wiggins heard from another concerned parent, who is one of his deputies.
Wiggins also obtained a letter from a high school student, who wrote about Bantle speaking to a civics class about the Fourth Amendment.
“She told us that she assumed we already knew about it so (Bantle) asked us if we have any questions for her,” the student wrote. “At first no one asked anything until someone said what are some of your best stories? She proceeds to tell some very interesting stories.”
The student said the stories included information Bantle shared about her time serving on a drug task force.
“Things that as a freshman we do not need to know,” the student wrote.
The student described three of the stories Bantle told the class.
The student said Bantle told them about pulling over a man and discovering him using a sex toy.
The student said Bantle talked about finding a sex toy at a drug bust and “showing us with her hands how big it was.”
The student said Bantle also talked about a drug bust in a “sex cave.”
“She talked a lot about being an icon and how she is the only female cop in Steamboat,” the student wrote. “I feel that she was not there to teach but to tell stories that no one wanted to hear. We never talked or learned anything about the Fourth Amendment. It disturbed me and many other classmates.”
Bantle could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
On Thursday, Bantle said she wanted to consult with her attorney before making any comment that might affect her continued employment with the police department.
Wiggins said both he and the deputy contacted Steamboat police and school officials about the incidents.
As the county’s chief law enforcement official, Wiggins also has law enforcement authority at two of Steamboat’s schools outside city limits. As part of an agreement between the county and city, Bantle had been allowed to deal with law enforcement issues at the schools in the county.
“Up to this point, I thought it had worked out OK with Kristin,” Wiggins said.
After learning about the incidents, Wiggins informed police administrators and school officials that he would no longer allow Bantle to serve as a school resource officer in the schools outside city limits.
Interim Police Chief Jerry DeLong has said a new school resource officer would be chosen prior to the start of the next school year.
Since Bantle was removed from her position, there has been a rally of support for Bantle from teachers, parents and students.
Some have said that Bantle being removed from her position was a form of retaliation against Bantle, who is one of the people named in the March letter distributed by former Detective Dave Kleiber. The letter resulted in Police Chief Joel Rae and Deputy Chief Bob DelValle being put on paid leave while an investigation into their conduct takes place.
In the letter, Kleiber wrote that Bantle reported to city officials issues of sexism, sexual harassment and the hostile work environment toward women at the police department. According to Kleiber, no corrective action was taken.
Wiggins said the incidents at the schools have “absolutely nothing to do” with the investigation into the police department, where Bantle and other women have been described as victims in an atmosphere of rampant sexism and a hostile work environment.
“I supported her when she stepped forward,” Wiggins said.
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