WOODLAND PARK, Colo. (KRDO) -- After Miles DeYoung's abrupt exit from the Woodland Park Police Department, Steve Hasler will serve as Interim Police Chief, City Manager Michael Lawson confirmed to 13 Investigates on Tuesday. The city council voted to approve Hasler as interim police chief Monday evening.
Hasler served as Chief of Police for the Town of Elizabeth from 2014 and retired in December 2020, according to a city press release. Hasler also previously worked as police chief in Lone Tree for eight years and served as police chief for a decade in Erie, according to the city manager.
The city said Hasler has a "deep understanding" of how to navigate and adapt to the complex challenges police agencies face. The city said Hasler values trust, transparency and integrity.
City leaders addressed previous allegations that were reported in a 2012 Denver Post newspaper article concerning Hasler.
The Denver Post article said while in Lone Tree, Hasler "ran a department that was demoralized and rife with sexual discrimination, nepotism, and cronyism, where officers worked under a 'blanket of fear'."
"In an effort to combat rumors and disinformation surrounding those allegations, we would like to address that
headline directly," said City Manager Michael Lawson.
"In 2012, when the article was published, Steve Hasler was the Chief of Police for the City of Lone Tree. The article details accusations from a handful of employees of the Lone Tree Police Department against the department itself. The publisher of the article never published a follow-up, and further research shows that statements made in the article were never substantiated."
"Given the circumstances around the previous police chief’s departure, the City of Woodland Park is especially sensitive to the allegations made in the article, particularly around sexual harassment. The City took extra care to ensure nothing was substantiated. The City is committed to ensuring its officers feel safe and empowered to do their jobs with support from leadership."
“We have conducted thorough research of our own, and can confirm that allegations made in the article are simply untrue."
"Through its research, the City believes Hasler has demonstrated integrity throughout his career. His record shows Hasler has routinely excelled at coming alongside officers to train and develop them. He was selected for his ability to bring stability and extensive experience to police departments as he has done several times in the past. Hasler has been recognized for his work by the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police in the past, including following his time in Lone Tree."
“We understand and appreciate concerns we’ve heard from the community. We can assure folks that due diligence was done ahead of time."City of Woodland Park's response to previous allegations against Hasler
We've reached out to the Denver Post for a comment on Woodland Park's response. We'll update this article when more information is available.
The city plans to conduct a national search for a full-time police chief.
“We are confident that Interim Chief Hasler will bring strength and stability to our police department while we
search for a permanent chief,” says City Manager Michael Lawson. “Steve’s many successes are a direct
reflection of his dedication, excellent leadership skills and commitment to the community.”
The appointment comes after former Woodland Park Police Chief Miles DeYoung abruptly retired on July 1 after a workplace conduct investigation recommended his termination. The investigation conducted by JEH Consulting found gender bias in the department and said DeYoung discriminated against and harrassed female police officers.
The interim police chief starts as a criminal investigation into the Woodland Park PD commanders is ongoing by the Teller County Sheriff's Office and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Commanders Andy Leibbrand and Ryan Holzwarth are still on paid leave due to that investigation.
13 Investigates revealed an apparent cover-up by Woodland Park police officers when Commander Leibbrand changed the status of police records and allegedly hid the records from Army veteran Jeremy Mitchell's grieving family. Mitchell died by suicide in December. Our investigation found that police officers who responded to his home failed to call out mental health resources to his home like they typically do during welfare checks.
The CBI will not confirm to 13 Investigates if the criminal investigation involving Leibbrand has any relation to Jeremy's case.