WOODLAND PARK, Colo. (KRDO) -- There is new leadership in the Woodland Park Police Department after months of turmoil.
Interim Chief Stephen Hasler has been on the job for two weeks and sat down exclusively with 13 Investigates to talk about his vision for helping the department move forward and address community concerns about allegations against him at other Colorado law enforcement agencies.
Hasler has been a police officer for 45 years, with more than half of his career serving as police chief. He retired in December as Chief of Police in Elizabeth, Colorado. Hasler plans to stay in Woodland Park temporarily while a national search for a new full-time chief occurs.
Hasler was appointed a few weeks after a workplace conduct investigation found now-former Woodland Park Police Chief Miles Deyoung discriminated against and harrassed female officers. DeYoung abruptly retired after the investigators recommended his termination to city officials and found the state of the department was "dire."
“You have to gain their trust, and you have to show everyone in the department that they can trust their leadership; you have to make an environment where people want to come to work, they look forward to coming to work," Hasler said.
Since June, commanders Andy Leibbrand and Ryan Holzwarth have been on paid leave for an ongoing criminal investigation involving the Woodland Park Police Department. Since no one is filling those roles, the current sergeants are picking up more administrative duties. However, Hasler is hoping to change that soon.
"I have been speaking to the city manager about getting a temporary command-level officer who can come in like, I'm here on an interim basis and fill that void until either commander come back, or we find out what's going on," Hasler said.
Some Woodland Park residents have reached out to 13 Investigates and expressed concerns on social media regarding Hasler's past. Among the concerns are allegations in a 2012 Denver Post newspaper article related to Hasler's time serving as the first Lone Tree Chief of Police.
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.'
13 Investigates reviewed three different investigations into the allegations. The complaints made against Hasler were unfounded by all third-party investigators.
"I want the Woodland Park community to know you know that I'm here to make things better, to make things better for the city for the PD and for the community, and they don't need to worry that I'm bringing any bad stuff with me because I'm not, you know, yeah, I've got some headlines but 45 years being a policeman, 28 at the rank of chief, and my job is to hold people accountable yeah I'm gonna have some people that don't like me," Hasler said.
Hasler tells 13 Investigates he will stay for about six months, and his focus is making sure the next police chief is a good fit for the agency.