Craig city manager accuses former chief of ’disparaging remarks’ in email

After accepting the resignation of former Craig Police Department Chief Jerry DeLong on the afternoon of Tuesday, Feb. 9 around 3 p.m., City Manager Peter Brixius rescinded a separation agreement with the former chief two days later.

Brixius cited disparaging remarks allegedly made by DeLong, according to emails provided to the Craig Press through a Colorado Open Records Act request.

On Feb. 10, the city — through Brixius — approached DeLong with a separation agreement, stating that the city would pay the former chief two months’ aggregated salary beginning March 1, 2021, and would allow DeLong to continue health insurance coverage for himself and his family as currently exists during the two-month period during which he would receive severance pay.

The separation agreement also stated that DeLong was to cooperate with the interim chief of police, city manager, and any other city employee to accomplish an orderly transition, and stated that he was to continue to act in the best interest of the city and the community he has served, including not making disparaging remarks against the city. Were he to make disparaging remarks, the city could cease any futher payments under the separation agreement.

The next morning, at 7:35 a.m., Brixius emailed DeLong stating he was rescinding the separation agreement, telling DeLong to pack up his office and leave the Public Safety Center.

“Jerry, I understand that you have been very unhappy with the terms of the offer and have been making disparaging remarks regarding the City’s intent with the offer. Having said that, the offer is rescinded,” Brixius wrote in the Thursday morning email to DeLong. “I, the mayor, City attorney, and HR will be at the safety center as soon as we can get assembled this morning. Pack up your office, leave your keys, badge, access cards and any other City property on your desk and you will be paid through your resignation date of March 1.”

In addition to DeLong’s resignation, Capt. Bill Leonard was placed on administrative leave for reasons that remain unclear.

News of DeLong’s departure came Feb. 11, with the three-year chief stepping down from the department, of which he was a member for 35 years total, dating back to August 10, 1985.

Brixius said the city wished DeLong well on Feb. 11, but declined to comment further on the resignation, stating it was a city personnel matter.

On Friday, Feb. 12, Brixius released a statement saying that the city was in the process of finding an interim chief, adding that City Attorney Heather Cannon “is supporting the agency for the next couple of weeks as an additional resource.”

Five days later, on Feb. 17, the city named Michael Cochran the interim chief of police in a press release, citing Cochran’s familiarity with Craig PD as he formerly worked for the department prior to taking his current position as Deputy Sheriff and Emergency Management Coordinator for the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office.

DeLong did not return requests for comment for this story.

This is a developing story. The Craig Press will provide more information as it becomes available.

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