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Woodland Park police commander retires following third-party investigation

WPPD

WOODLAND PARK, Colo. (KRDO) -- Following several resignations and terminations within the police department, the City of Woodland Park informed 13 investigates of another Police Commander’s resignation on Friday.

According to the City Manager, Woodland Park Police Commander Ryan Holzwarth retired from the department. Holzwarth was placed on leave In June after a criminal investigation and workplace conduct investigation involving the department was launched by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Teller County Sheriff's Office.

The resignation also follows the completion of a third-party investigation conducted by Municipal Police Consultants LLC. 13 Investigates obtained a copy of the report this week.

The report states Woodland Park Police Commander Ryan Holzwarth’s behavior towards fellow officers was in violation of the City of Woodland Park’s General Rules of Conduct and The Value statement of the Woodland Park Police Department. Holzwarth was the Interim Police Chief in Woodland Park for three weeks before being placed on administrative leave.

Former Woodland Park Police Commander Ryan Holzwarth

According to Woodland Park’s City Manager, Holzwarth resigned from his position while both investigations are on going. It’s unclear to 13 Investigates when the former WPPD Commander resigned. 

In September, Municipal Police Consultants LLC looked into the allegation that Commander Holzwarth manipulated a personnel investigation in an attempt to terminate a former Woodland Park police officer. 

“The allegation was that Commander Holzwarth initiated a domestic violence investigation through the Teller County Sheriff’s Office in which a former WPPD officer was a suspect in an attempted to discredit him, when there was no evidence to warrant such an investigation,” said the report. 

Investigators concluded those allegations were unfounded. As of the conclusion of the report on Oct. 14, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office investigation into the domestic violence allegation is still ongoing.

However, during their investigation, Municipal Police Consultants discovered a series of actions by Commander Holzwarth that were considered ‘very concerning’, and raised concerns pertaining to his fitness to the position of Commander within the Woodland Park Police Department. 

An interviewee alleges that Commander Holzwarth called a Teller County Deputy Sheriff a “f***ing b****” on the police radio. Another said Holzwarth spread rumors about a female officer "banging every guy at the academy." One interview said Holzwarth disclosed to fellow co-workers that a female employee at WPPD was experiencing a very personal medical issue. 

Additionally, investigators found that when Commander Holzwarth interviewed the potential domestic violence victim from the case involving a WPPD officer he mishandled the interview.

“He should have had another supervisor/command officer attend the interview with him and he should have recorded the interview,” said the investigator in his report. “As a result of his poor interview management skills the interview resulted in confusion for all involved, a needless criminal investigation by the Teller County Sheriff’s Office, and extreme discord within the Woodland Park Police Department.”

According to the third-party report, Commander Holzwarth did not keep information regarding the domestic violence investigation confidential. Instead, Holzwarth is accused of telling a fellow officer, and the case’s details quickly spread throughout the department. 

Woodland Park Police Commander Andy Leibbrand and Sgt. Mike McDaniel were both officially terminated on Tuesday after a third-party investigation found they neglected their duty in how they handled a welfare check for a 29-year-old suicidal veteran in December 2020. The City of Woodland Park has fired a long-time police commander and a sergeant for their failure to help.

A workplace conduct investigation found now-former Woodland Park Police Chief Miles Deyoung discriminated against and harassed female officers. DeYoung abruptly retired after the investigators recommended his termination to city officials and found the state of the department was "dire."

A Woodland Park Police Deputy Chief would not comment on the investigation into Commander Holzwarth’s behavior during his tenure.  However, he said the Woodland Park police department is in a position to move forward, and the environment that existed at WPPD before no longer exists.

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Dan Beedie

Dan is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about Dan here.

Comments

6 Comments

  1. The entire command staff of this department. Truly let that sink in the next time another department is in the news. The entire command staff of this department had created, fostered and encouraged this behavior. This is not a 1 off or a rogue action occurring within a department, this corruption and similar actions occur in every department, this is not merely an oops. Know our laws and Const(i)tutional rights, or the ones that make the rules will attempt to use them against you, even in a court of law.

  2. How does a tiny, sleepy part of the world like Woodland Park manage to have so many problems – most of which are internal?
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    ????
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    Just sayin’, if my family was paying Woodland Park property and sales taxes; I’d be at a few more elected official type of meetings.
    .

  3. I’d suggest:

    1. LE agencies everywhere have issues, and it’s hard to fire someone and be transparent about it without getting sued, so you will get folks from the larger areas that wash out and go to small towns to be cops and unless those hiring are diligent they don’t know they’ve bought a lemon until it’s too late.

    2. Teller has a lot of second homes (so people that aren’t invested, whose kids don’t go to school there, etc.) and has a large working clas s population (people who are too busy and broke to run for office). So when it comes to local government you basically choose between a few retirees and bunch of Realtors.

    3. Many of the folks who do run campaign on national issues — e.g. anti-Biden or anti-Trump. So basically elections are useless for getting people who actually care about local governance — things like potholes or improving school quality. Sometimes someone sneaks in who has a clue, but the incentives are against it. We have a high school with a horrible reputation, very poor test scores and results for kids going on to vocations or college, and a drug problem. But people will run for office on their opinion about critical race theory or immigration. These are the folks that interview school superintendents and hire the guy who gets fired after months on paid leave because he crashes his car while drunk.

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