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Woodland Park Police Department hires interim deputy chief amid an ongoing criminal investigation

WOODLAND PARK, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Woodland Park Police Department has temporarily hired a retired El Paso County Sheriff's Office commander to help fill its leadership void.

The city manager of Woodland Park tells 13 Investigates hired Rodney Gehrett as interim deputy chief. Gehrett is set to start on October 18.

Gehrett previously worked in several positions, including serving as a lieutenant and commander at the El Paso County Sheriff's Office since 1995, according to a biography on the sheriff's office website.

Gehrett will work under interim Police Chief Steve Hasler who was hired after former Woodland Park Police Chief Miles DeYoung abruptly retired following an internal investigation that recommended his termination for sexual discrimination and harassment of female police officers.

"The City is excited to have Rodney Gehrett join our team as our interim deputy chief. He brings extensive and varied experience to the police department. Rodney’s deep knowledge of police matters and his calm demeanor will bring a valuable layer of support for our officers and Interim Chief Hasler," city manager Michael Lawson said.

The hiring of an interim deputy chief comes as the top two police commanders in Woodland Park remain on paid leave as the Teller County Sheriff's Office and Colorado Bureau of Investigations conducts a criminal investigation involving the police department.

Commanders Ryan Holzwarth and Andy Leibbrand have been paid a combined total of $45,500 since being put on leave 16 weeks ago. The city plans to dip into budget savings to pay the new interim deputy chief's salary.

It's unclear exactly why Holzwarth and Leibbrand are under criminal investigation. 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 in December 2020 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 Teller County Sheriff's Office said this week its criminal investigation is ongoing and investigators are waiting on several pieces of electronic data from the manufacturer of Woodland Park Police Department's record-keeping software.

The city of Woodland Park has also initiated its internal investigation into the allegations of an apparent cover-up that 13 Investigates first exposed.

It's unclear when the city will make an employment decision for the commanders that are on leave.

If you have a tip or lead that you want our team to investigate, email us at 13Investigates@krdo.com.

Chelsea Brentzel

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

Comments

3 Comments

  1. “It’s unclear when the city will make an employment decision for the commanders that are on leave.” They will make a decision once the investigation has concluded and the Commanders are either cleared of any wrong-doing or are potentially criminally charged. Until then they will remain on Paid admin leave as this is standard operating procedure for most agencies.

  2. The Woodland Park police are almost as corrupt as the Denver police. Very scary driving through Woodland Park as a person of color. The police in WP will pull you over for any reason.

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