Council to hear findings of police review
February 9, 2010
Timothy Leary, who the city hired to investigate the Craig Police Department's internal affairs investigation of former detective Ken Johnson, has finished his investigation and will host a public workshop tonight to discuss his findings.
The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., before the Craig City Council's regular meeting.
Leary, a former captain and commander of the Denver Police Metro/SWAT Bureau, was hired in November 2009 to review Johnson's alleged actions, the resulting police investigation and the department's general policies, procedures and code of conduct.
According to the official report, Leary found "absolutely no evidence to show that the command staff of the Craig Police Department engaged in any attempt to conceal or cover up any wrongful conduct of Ken Johnson."
Johnson resigned in September 2009, was arrested later that month and charged with three felonies.
He is scheduled for a jury trial May 24 in Moffat County District Court.
Johnson was also a member of the All Crimes Enforcement Team drug task force.
An investigation by the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office reported that Johnson broke the law while involved in a sexual relationship with a local woman convicted of drug use and distribution. He is accused of providing that woman with information about ongoing law enforcement investigations and helping her violate probation.
Leary's report states that the Police Department did not "in any way fail in their responsibility to fully investigate all information that was known to them at the time."
But Leary also found that "nearly every person interviewed in the Craig police internal investigation was misinformed, duped, deliberately lied to or withheld information that would have allowed … the investigation to possibly proceed further."
Leary's investigation comes on the heels of a Colorado Bureau of Investigation audit of ACET requested by Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta.
The CBI made recommendations about how money used for drug buys is handled by ACET officers.
Craig City Manager Jim Ferree requested the investigation from Leary.
The report also gave a detailed timeline of events.
In the report, Leary also presented his review of policies and procedures for Internal Affairs investigations by the Police Department. He recommended three changes.
The first recommendation contends that "serious complaints should be investigated by other law enforcement jurisdictions."
Leary suggested that initial complaints should be reviewed at the commander level, then given a recommendation to the chief, if an outside investigation would be appropriate.
"Claims of bias or favoritism are common when law enforcement personnel investigate officers they have familiar relationships with, often due to agency size, friendship or community," Leary said in his final report.
Leary also recommended that the current practice of allowing an officer the opportunity to make voluntary statements concerning their actions should be replaced with a "written statement that demands a truthful account of any and all information known by them."
The current practice, Leary said, limits the information available to investigators and puts them at a disadvantage of knowing the full scope of facts.
The final recommendation states "officers should be admonished that they are expressly prohibited from discussing or sharing information regarding the nature of the complaint or their own statements until the conclusion of the investigation."
Vanatta said he was pleased with Leary's findings.
"I felt that we conducted the internal investigation to Mr. Johnson in an appropriate way, and I was grateful to see that the results of (Leary's) investigation said the same thing," he said. "He made some great suggestions on the changing of our process, and in fact, we have already appointed a committee to start reviewing and implementing those."