Kristin Bantle: Former officer addresses community
To the citizens of Steamboat Springs,
I graciously thank all those that believe in me and stood up, defending my reputation. I sincerely apologize to anyone that feels my conduct has let them down in any way.
On March 25, 2015, I submitted a letter to the Steamboat Springs City Council, which is attached online. This letter was submitted directly to council members for two reasons: 1. Resolution through my chain of command had been exhausted, and 2. the city manager knowingly made false statements to the press about the conditions within the Steamboat Springs Police Department.
The four-page letter attempted to outline problems in the police department and highlight solutions with the intent of moving the organization in alignment with best practices and the values of our community. The sexist, retaliatory and paramilitary environment that I witnessed is described in the letter. Along with an “us against them” ethos and is detailed.
Unfortunately, since I submitted this letter, I was denied whistleblower status, had my constitutional rights violated. I was removed as school resource officer, investigated for drug use, falsely charged with a felony, publicly humiliated, maligned by elected officials, violated by illegal disclosure of confidential employment information, fired from my job, dragged through the mud, subjected to substantial financial hardships, was the victim of great mental and physical suffering and legitimately was scared for the safety of my family.
After all of this, the city continues to hide the reports triggered, in part, by my letter and continues its retaliation by not recognizing my letter for what it is — a grievance.
I am for good reason, saddened and outraged at the actions taken against me, and I firmly believe all my recent hardships are a direct result of my willingness to come forward. Saddened by the loud and clear message broadcasted through the actions of our government officials, that by no means is it safe to advocate for needed reform.
Outraged by the clear abuse of authority to persecute me and hide the findings of the investigation from its rightful owners, the public. The retaliatory, sexist and militant behaviors outlined in my letter are the same, in nature, to the events I’ve personally endured these past six months; unfortunately, that means we are not just dealing with a few bad apples. The need for transparency, beginning with releasing the Steamboat Springs Police Department investigation report, could not be more evident given the fact the unhealthy and harmful ethos lives on within our valley.
My goal has always been to help our community move forward and begin to rebuild the public’s trust. This can only be accomplished with transparency and proper oversight.
At a bare minimum the council must have access to the full police investigation report followed by an appropriate summary for public consumption. Anything less at this time would be an affirmative vote to rule with fear and intimidation instead of governing with respect and trust.
I firmly believe we cannot have closure without reasonable and proper disclosure.
This process has been very costly on many levels, and we can not afford to repeat this debacle. As a community, we have paid for a very important and necessary tool. This tool should serve as a road map that can tell us where we’ve been, how we got there and how to avoid this dark place in the future.
As a citizen and former employee with a legitimate legal claim to the SSPD investigation I helped to trigger, I respectfully ask the City Council to release the findings of the investigation in a fair, professional and timely manner.
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