Update from the Firestone Board of Trustees
Tonight, we will be receiving a report from Mr. Alan Youngs, the third-party law enforcement expert appointed by the Board of Trustees. Mr. Youngs was hired to examine and report to the Board regarding the findings, recommendations, and policies of the Town’s Safety Services Director and other law enforcement professionals, who have been reviewing the management and operations of the Police Department. Tonight will not be a discussion of Chief David Montgomery’s, paid administrative leave nor the personnel investigation which initiated his paid administrative leave as the investigation is a confidential matter which can’t be shared with the Board.
To provide factual information to the public, below is a recap of how we got here, the steps the Town has taken, and a reminder that from the beginning, the intent has been to address the overall performance of the Police Department. We recognize that residents have had questions about the Police Department, the role of the Safety Services Director, and the role and work of Mr. Youngs. Throughout this process, we have been following the legal advice given to us by the Town Attorney and our insurer, CIRSA (Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency), and their attorneys. As a Board, we are now able to share more information with the public.
We want to begin by sharing some history about the effort to address some of the issues within the Police Department. Late in 2019 and throughout 2020, several incidents drew attention to the police department’s management, policies, procedures, and practices. These issues ranged from concerns regarding officer conduct, adherence to statutory requirements, Department policies, workplace culture, and disciplinary practices. In January of 2021, the Board was advised by CIRSA that several issues in the Department represented significant ongoing liability to the Town if not addressed.
Upon learning more about the issues, the Board instructed the Town Manager to begin a process that would lead to the implementation of management and operational practices that would bring the Department to the current standards required for law enforcement agencies. The Town Manager initiated a process to prepare a Police Department Strategic Plan and established a temporary civilian position (“Safety Services Director”) to work with the Police Chief and Command Staff to accomplish the objective. In late January and early February, the Town Manager met with Chief Montgomery to explain the strategic plan effort and the role of the Safety Services Director. On February 9, 2021, Mark Campbell was selected to serve as the Safety Services Director.
From the beginning, the intent was for Chief Montgomery, the Command Staff, and the Safety Services Director to collaborate on the development of the Strategic Plan and prepare for its implementation.
Unfortunately, Chief Montgomery was not able to be involved in this process because of a prior intervening matter. Specifically, in mid-December of 2020, sworn depositions were given for a lawsuit filed against the Town and other area law enforcement agencies in 2019. The lawsuit (which has since been settled) included numerous allegations of misconduct of the officers of all of the parties. In addition, one of the depositions included several allegations of misconduct by Chief Montgomery. After learning of the allegations and acting upon the advice of legal counsel, the decision was made to place Chief Montgomery on Paid Administrative Leave on February 17, 2021. That ensuing investigation was conducted by an independent third party, who had never performed any services for the Town. We recognize that the timing of when the Safety Services Director started work and Chief Montgomery being placed on Paid Administrative Leave seems suspicious. The reality is that the Town had no control over the scheduling of the depositions.
Given its necessity, work on the strategic plan commenced, with the first phase being an overall evaluation and assessment of the Department’s policies, procedures, and practices. During this initial assessment period, many operational issues were discovered. These included serious deficiencies regarding the operations of the evidence and property room, which included failure to comply with state law regarding the transfer of firearms and failure to submit Sexual Assault Nurse Examinations (“SANE”) kits to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations. Additionally, firearms were released absent the required clearance by a federal database, drugs were mixed with general evidence and the evidence records could not be reconciled as the Department used two different recording systems. It was also discovered that the Department was not retaining body-worn and video evidence as required by state law. As to the Department’s staffing, it was discovered that test results of nationally validated examinations were altered, supervisor personnel lacked required training and testing, and the Department’s promotion processes were commonly done absent any postings, testing, or evaluation processes. In addition, there was not an operational internal discipline process which resulted in a process marked by favoritism, inaction, and a lack of accountability for misconduct. Further, the Department failed to report, as required by law, certain matters to the District Attorney and the Peace Officers Standards and Training Board. The assessment work has been documented in monthly reports prepared by the Safety Services Director. In response to resident questions about the veracity and ability of the Safety Services Director’s work, the Board of Trustees decided it was necessary to hire an independent expert.
Al Youngs was hired by the Board of Trustees in April of 2021. Mr. Youngs’ sole purpose has been to review the work of the Safety Services Director and associated Consultants and to report his findings directly to the Board of Trustees. As part of his work, Mr. Youngs has reviewed many documents, reports, and files and has interviewed almost every member of the Department. Tonight’s Special Meeting is an opportunity for the Board and public to hear directly from Mr. Youngs about his assessment of the Safety Services Director’s work and the overall operations and practices of the Department.
As elected officials, we have been compelled to complete this investigation in accordance with the oath we took to serve and protect the best interests of this community. This process has been a long and difficult one. While we recognize that the public has varying opinions on this process, the Town has for the entirety of this process been diligent and methodical, while also transparent to the extent permitted by law. None of us anticipated being in this situation. However, we believe that everyone involved – including the Board of Trustees, the Town Manager, attorneys, investigators, and Town staff acted as prescribed by law and in the best interests of the Town of Firestone.