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Top three Woodland Park police officers on leave during criminal investigation, City asks outside agencies for help

WOODLAND PARK, Colo. (KRDO) -- The three top leaders of the Woodland Park Police Department are on leave after a criminal investigation and workplace conduct investigation involving the department was launched.

Woodland Park's Acting Mayor Hilary LaBarre told 13 Investigates that she would not comment on the situation at the time because it is a personnel matter. LaBarre said she has asked for support from Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski and District Attorney Michael Allen to help with personnel matters.

On Monday, Woodland PD Acting Police Chief Commander Ryan Holzwarth and Commander Andy Leibbrand were placed on leave after being interviewed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and Teller County Sheriff's Office, according to city manager Michael Lawson. City officials say Holzwarth and Liebbrand are cooperating with CBI and Teller County investigators and will be on leave until the investigation is complete.

The Woodland Park City Manager says they are looking to bring an "outside resource" to serve as acting police chief. For now, Sergeant Mike McDaniel and Sergeant Beth Huber will handle the Commander duties of Holzwarth and Leibbrand. The city says there should be no impact on police service provided to residents. The three officers who were put on leave did not provide patrol services, according to the City Manager.

The announcement of the state and county criminal investigation comes three weeks after Woodland Park Police Chief Miles DeYoung was put on leave for a third-party investigation into workplace conduct allegations. It's unclear if DeYoung or the workplace conduct allegations are part of the state and county's criminal probe. DeYoung previously told 13 Investigates he didn't want to talk about his leave because it was a personnel matter.

City Councilman Robert Zuluaga said he had nothing to add to the city's original announcement on the criminal investigation. He said putting the officers on administrative leave allows investigators to do their work. Zuluaga added that "we withhold judgment of folks and deem them innocent until proven guilty."

It's unclear exactly what the CBI and Teller County are investigating that involves the Woodland Park Police Department. Woodland Park's City Manager Michael Lawson said the investigators on the criminal case "did not reveal the breadth of the inquiry" when requesting to interview executive-level members of the police department.

"The city of Woodland Park supports full transparency and appreciates the great work that the men and women of the Woodland Park Police Department perform on a daily basis. As information is shared with the city from the investigating agencies, we will update the public," Lawson said.

CBI told 13 Investigates Tuesday afternoon there are no new updates at this time.

If you have a lead or story you want our team to look into, email us at 13Investigates@krdo.com.

Crime / Investigations / Local News / Video

Chelsea Brentzel

Chelsea is an investigative reporter for KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about Chelsea here.

Comments

11 Comments

  1. If the top 3 Woodland Park Police Administrators are gone and the city is comfortable making this statement, “The city says there should be no impact on police service provided to residents.” What do the top 3 Woodland Park Police Administrators get paid to do?

      1. Really? “No impact to police service provided to residents.” Is there a different type of “police service” that the police department supervisory cadre provides the residents? Clearly not because “No impact” is a very definitive statement. This statement hit the nail on the head actually, and their statement only validated how inconsequential these leadership roles have made themselves when it comes to day to day police service that is provided to residents of their community(ies). These 3 top LE positions are so nonessential that if they are there occupying a seat, versus not occupying a seat there is no impact to the WPPD’s operation. That one statement is quite telling.
        Now add that the city council and city manager will not advise what this criminal investigation involves a personnel matter is about. Is this because the city government doesn’t get told what is happening inside the police division of the local government deliberately, or is this just happenstance? Why is transparency so hard for our government to provide?

      1. This same problem isn’t exclusive to just being observed at this one police department, more like this is commonality for most. I highly doubt that their complacency and apathy are the reason(s) for this recent Criminal Investigation. If I had to surmise based upon probability alone, I would say it involves another EEOC or sexual harassment violation, that was not dealt with correctly by the supervisory cadre of this department.
        But without transparency how will “we the people” ever know if the government doesn’t advise us of the misdialing’s and investigative conclusions of what this investigation reported to be the final decision. Just like in Manitou Springs, it was swept under the rug and nobody was able to be told anything to the contrary, because they hid behind the blue wall. Even after the conclusion, no one knows what really occurred involving the removal / resignation of this top government officials position.

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