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Woodland Park has paid $45,000 and counting to police commanders on leave for criminal investigation

leibbrand and holzwarth

WOODLAND PARK, Colo. (KRDO) -- 13 Investigates has learned that the top two commanders in Woodland Park have been paid a combined total of $45,500 since being placed on leave for a criminal investigation in early June.

Commanders Ryan Holzwarth and Andy Leibbrand were placed on paid leave on June 7 after the Teller County Sheriff's Office and the Colorado Bureau of Investigations notified the city they were conducting a criminal investigation involving the police department.

It's unclear exactly what the commanders are under investigation for or how long the investigation will take.

In July, 13 Investigates exposed an apparent cover-up by Woodland Park officers in a young veteran's suicide case. The Woodland Park Police Department received at least 11 calls for help preceding the death of 29-year-old Jeremy Mitchell. 13 Investigates discovered officers failed to call mental health resources like they typically do in similar situations, and police department leadership allegedly concealed the records telling the full story.

"The City continues to wait as patiently as we can but looks forward to having the investigation completed, hopefully soon," City Manager Michael Lawson told 13 Investigates over email.

The city of Woodland Park is working to hire an interim deputy police chief to fill the gap and plans to use funds from a savings budget to cover the salary of the temporary position. Lawson said on Tuesday that if one or two of the commanders returns to work, the interim deputy chief position would dissolve.

"Our interim Chief and staff continue to fill in the gap as best they can. They are doing a great job keeping the streets safe and bringing stability to our police operation after several difficult months," Lawson said.

The city of Woodland Park said it has also initiated its own internal investigation into the allegations that high-ranking police officers hid information from Mitchell's family. The city manager says if the city finds major policy violations by police officers it will be handled accordingly.

Chelsea Brentzel

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

Comments

2 Comments

  1. Adding an Interim Deputy Chief position until the conclusion of the investigation, how much additional will this cost the taxpayers.
    We’re almost 4 months into free paid admin leave for 2 commanders with no end in sight being reported. What could they still be investigating for almost 1/3 of a year that they couldn’t have already completed?
    Or is the good ol’ boys scratching each others backs and hoping this will all wash away.

  2. Well done keeping on top of this.
    This is a bad situation either way, if the officers acted appropriately they need their names cleared and their jobs restored to them. If they did not, they need to be released from duty and the pay ended. There are an awful lot of potholes in Woodland that someone could be paid to fix for that money.

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