Former Steamboat police detective has strong words for City Council
Steamboat Springs — Former detective Dave Kleiber on Wednesday night pleaded with the Steamboat Springs City Council to conduct a fair, transparent and objective investigation into allegations he has made against Police Chief Joel Rae and Deputy Chief Bob DelValle.
“Some of those allegations are criminal in nature,” Kleiber said. “Some of them are just unethical.”
Kleiber asked city council members to do three things. He wants them to commit to doing an independent investigation, and he wants them to create an atmosphere for current employees to participate in the investigation process without fear of retribution.
“The only way you can do that is to begin by putting Joel Rae and Bob DelValle on leave,” Kleiber said.
Kleiber also asked the City Council to use an independent entity for the investigation that has no connection to the city, government or police department.
Kleiber was critical of City Manager Deb Hinsvark’s decision to use an investigator who was recommended by the city’s insurance company.
“It’s so clear that that is incredibly self-serving and a conflict of interest,” Kleiber said.
Kleiber was one of five people to speak during public comment at Wednesday’s emergency city council meeting.
The purpose of the meeting was for city council members to meet behind closed doors to discuss legal issues related to the accusations. All the members of the City Council participated in the meeting.
City council members did not make any motions or take any votes after the executive session.
Hinsvark said after the meeting that Rae and DelValle have not been put on administrative leave.
When asked after the meeting whether he was happy with the investigative process proposed by Hinsvark, council member Scott Ford said it was “not gelled out yet.”
“Happy or not, it’s probably too early to say,” Ford said.
When Council President Bart Kounovsky was asked what he thought about Hinsvark’s plan, Kounovsky said the citizens of Steamboat deserve a “full investigation of these extremely serious allegations.”
“It’s my hope and actually expectation that when this investigation is complete, significant improvements will be made with both the city of Steamboat Springs government and all departments,” Kounovsky said.
Hinsvark plans to hire former Littleton Police Chief Heather Coogan to do the investigation.
“From what I’ve seen, this person comes with impeccable police department credentials and is the type of independent, third-party investigator that is needed at this time,” Kounovsky said.
Members of the public also pleaded with the City Council to have a third party conduct the investigation. That included Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins, a former Steamboat police officer who Kleiber mentions in his letter as a person who should be interviewed as part of the investigation.
Wiggins said that after Kleiber’s letter began circulating in the community last week, he contacted Hinsvark and told her he would be available anytime to be interviewed by the investigator.
“I told her that during my years as a SSPD officer that I have witnessed or been the object of the type of treatment outlined in the letter,” Wiggins said. “I also advised Mrs. Hinsvark that there were many prior SSPD employees that were now RCSO (Routt County Sheriff’s Offfice) employees that wished to be interviewed.”
A second letter from a former Steamboat police officer is now being distributed by email in the community. The five-page letter is from Nick Moore, and it is also critical of the leadership at the police department.
“I can tell you that the morale and work atmosphere at the Steamboat Springs Police Department are toxic and that it is an extremely hostile work environment,” Moore wrote.
At this time, the Steamboat Pilot & Today is not publishing Moore’s or Kleiber’s letters.
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Michael Egan was returning to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, last Saturday, Jan 22, after hitting the slopes in Steamboat Springs, but, as his flight accelerated toward takeoff, something wasn’t right.