History of the Sheridan
Town marshals existed in Sheridan since the time of the city's incorporation in 1890 into 1959. The first Town Marshal to use a motorized vehicle provided by the town in 1954 was Charlie Huffman. The last Town Marshal was V. Ray Milam in 1959. Late in 1958, the State of Colorado determined the Town of Sheridan had enough population to be become a city. A board of Aldermen had governed the town. With the change, the board became the City Council. The City Council adopted Ordinance #5 on second reading on February 2, 1959. That ordinance created the police department. Before that time, the Town of Sheridan had a town marshal and one deputy marshal. V. Ray Milam, the town marshal became the city's first police chief. It was a position he held for just over three months. When the city created the police department there was only a chief and one police officer.
On June 4, 1959, the City Council hired Weldon Dunn as the police chief. In January, the City Council authorized the purchase of a monitor radio for the police chief. The cost was $64.50. All calls and radio dispatching at this time were handled by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department. In March 1961, the City Council hired Bernard B. Wicker to replace Chief Dunn while he was on leave for an illness. Chief Dunn returned to duty on April 16, 1961. Late in 1961, the City Council approved the hiring of a relief (part time) police officer. They hired Wicker for this relief position. The 1963 budget for the police department was $25,000.00.
A special meeting of the City Council was held on May 29, 1963 to review a report from the council police committee. The Chief was suspended by the council police committee on May 27, 1963. Sergeant Quigley was temporarily placed in command of the department and the Sheriff's Department was notified that Mr. Dunn had been removed from duty. The council police committee prepared a report that detailed the problems in the police department and what happened on May 27. Dunn was criticized in the committee report with incomplete police reports, having unauthorized personnel in his patrol vehicle, and being under the influence of alcohol while on duty. The report was unanimously accepted by the City Council and Dunn was removed as police chief. Ray Alexander was appointed as the acting Chief of Police. On June 3, 1963, the council received the resignation from Mr. Dunn, which he had written on May 28, 1963. A motion was made to accept the resignation and was unanimously approved. Ray Alexander resigned from the department. There was no chief from June 15, 1963 through July 22, 1963.
The police committee recommended nine candidates to the City Council. The list was cut down to four candidates to be interviewed. Three candidates were actually interviewed. On July 22, 1963, the City Council hired Ben Roach as the new police chief at a salary of $500.00 per month. Roach had been their third choice. Members of the department now included Ben Roach, Quigley, and Dietz. The first officer hired by Chief Roach was Alexander G. Brown. The brought the department back up to four people. In addition, for the first time the entire City Council approved the hiring of police officers instead of the council police committee.
Robert Wells was hired in December 1963 and became the fifth full time member of the police department. With five officers, a new police car was purchased in January 1964. It was a Pontiac and cost $2,683.50. One month later a 1964 Pontiac was purchased for the police department. The cost was $2,683.47. This vehicle was the first vehicle to have a gun bracket installed. For the first time, the police department now had three police cars.
A review of the bills paid by the city clearly indicated times were changing in the police department. The increase in traffic tickets and police reports had increased significantly during the first year with Roach as chief of the department. The department was using about 200 gallons of gasoline each month for the three police cars. The police department budget for 1964 was about $40,000. The police department reserves had grown significantly since the hiring of Chief Roach.
After several days of rain, the Platte River flooded through out the metropolitan area. The river finally overflowed its banks on June 12, 1965. On June 12, 1965, the following entry was recorded in the Sheridan Fire Department journal. "At night the worst flood ever on the Platte River. About 3 feet of mud and water in the fire house." The city hall was next to the fire house on West Hamilton Place and was severely damaged. It was later demolished.
Because of possible flooding on Bear Creek the police cars were put on different sides of Bear Creek. Members of the Colorado National Guard were called in to prevent looting. "All of the bridges over the Platte River in Sheridan were destroyed. The Hamilton Avenue bridge was on the south side of the US 285 bridge and acted as a dam until it split apart and the debris took out the US 285 bridges."
On July 6, 1965, Police Officer Robert Wells was promoted to Captain and Assistant Chief. For the first time the department had a police captain. By the end of 1965, the city was taking in enough revenue from traffic fines to cover the salaries of all six members of the police department. Chief Dunn first started using radar traffic enforcement in April 1963. Chief Roach turned it into a revenue generator for the city.
In January 1966, June Lindstrom and Robert Shanks were appointed by the council to the "Police Committee." In a practical sense, councilwoman June Lindstrom became the first "Police Commissioner" of the city.
In January 1967, the police department would receive a full make over. Chief Roach was not retained and Robert Wells was selected as the new chief. Kenneth Delongschamp was made the new captain. Four new police officers were hired. Each of the new officers had been personally interviewed by Lindstrom. Commissioner Lindstrom had radically changed the personnel in the department. The changes were unanimously approved by the City Council. Roach would later become the police chief in Commerce City serving for eight years. Later on, he became police chief in East Peoria, Illinois. Chief Roach passed away on August 26, 1989.
In January 1968, one of the first changes that Mayor Jane Rosenbach and the new City Council made was terminating five employees including the Police Chief Robert Wells. Bobbie D. Lord was selected as the new chief. Lord was 32 years old and a resident of Englewood. At the time, the city was $9,400 in debt. The year before the city had a surplus of $92,747.32. The budget for the entire city for the year was $247,000. Richard Cossaboom, a deputy district attorney, was named the police magistrate. Just two years later Mr. Cossaboom would become the city's first Municipal Judge.
Mayor Jane Rosenbach was recalled on October 13, 1970 and was replaced by Mayor Theodore "Ted" Armstrong. The City Council also authorized the placement of advertising for a new chief of police. Chief Keith Benson left the employment of the city at the end of December 1970.
Effective on December 24, 1970 a new era and approach would begin in the department with the appointment of 45 year old David E. Teich Sr. as the new Police Chief. Teich was a retired Army major and veteran of World War II and Korea. He had been with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department since November 1963.
Teich sought a new image for the department. Teich implemented a patrol mapping routine to the department. His goal was to have each street patrolled at least once during every shift. Teich sought to end the speed traps in the city. That came when a picture was placed in a local newspaper showing a speed trap. The paper later acknowledged the picture had been taken over a year earlier. The Chief had the police cars labeled with large yellow reflectorized signs so "people know we're not hiding." The new patrolling technique started by Chief Teich, resulted in the lowest crime rate in the prior three years.
Times got difficult for Chief Teich in fall of 1973. Several complaints were filed against the chief. Four police officers brought their complaints to the mayor. It concerned the police chief's behavior. An investigation was begun to look at the entire situation on a Saturday morning. All members of the police department were interviewed. Four police officers and the chief were placed on probation by the Sheridan City Council on Monday, August 27, 1973. The motion passed on a 3-2 vote. The two no votes came from the councilmen that investigated the original complaint. The City Council decision came as about 150 people jammed the City Council chamber with an overflow crowd looking through the windows. The four had been suspended by Teich for taking their complaint to Mayor Theodore "Ted" Armstrong rather than the Police Commissioner Wilfred Corbin. Chief Teich submitted his resignation on Sunday, September 15, 1974.
On November 12, 1974, Roger Patterson was named the Acting Chief of Police retroactive back to November 7, 1974. Two new police cars had been purchased and a quick change made by Chief Patterson was to remove the yellow reflector decals from the police cars. The department later changed to a black and white style of police car.
The city moved into their "new facility" at 4400 South Federal Boulevard late in 1974. With the move, the police department moved out of the "house" at 4001 South Federal. An open house was held in March 1975. Remodeling was done at a later date, to create two cells for holding prisoners. Patterson was appointed as the permanent Chief of Police on January 28, 1975.
A committee from council was appointed to review the operations of the police department. The recommendations were presented to the full City Council on May 9, 1978. The following recommendations were adopted. "Put into written form all procedures relating to day to day operations of the police department, i.e.: arrests, bonding of prisoners, identifications procedures, juvenile procedures, record system, handling of and disposing of city monies and fees collected, etc." "That all department personnel work more harmoniously with other city offices and departments in the total operation of the city functions."
On October 14, 1980, the City Council appointed Roger Patterson as the City Administrator and appointed Joe Wing Chief of Police. The appointment of Wing did not last two weeks before Patterson would retake the title of Chief of Police. Patterson would then hold the chief's position and the City Administrator position concurrently.
On January 13, 1981, Kathy M. Inglis was hired as secretary to the Public Works Department. A background check was not completed. Danette Trujillo resigned as police department secretary. Inglis then became Patterson's secretary. Joshua Phillipson resigned as controller. Phillipson had sought the position of City Administrator. Inglis was then given the bookkeeper position by Patterson. Again, a background check had not been completed on Inglis.
City bookkeeper Kathy Mae Inglis was arrested on October 2, 1981. She was charged with seven counts of theft of more than $10,000, 10 counts of theft of $200 to $10,000 and 17 counts of embezzlement of public property. She was the bookkeeper for the city from May 1981 until her arrest.
Inglis had a prior history of embezzlement. The final loss to the city was determined to be $265,000. Roger Patterson was the City Administrator at the time of the embezzlement. In addition, Dale Carter was the Acting Police Chief. Acting Chief Dale Carter reinstituted the reserves. Participants were Larrie Thomase, a city employee, George Godoy and Charles Henage. Sgt. David Carson was promoted to lieutenant. Originally, the City Council was going to remove Roger Patterson as city administrator and reinstate him as police chief. Later Mayor Wilfred D. Corbin suspended the City Administrator Roger Patterson and Police Captain and Acting Chief Dale Carter.
The suspensions came in wake of the $265,000 embezzlement from the city by Kathy Inglis. Councilman Carroll Royer resigned as he had borrowed $200 from Inglis. Royer said, "We're all human and we all make mistakes." The council later fired Patterson and Carter. It had been revealed that Patterson was living rent free in a home owned by Inglis. Carter had accepted a pick up truck and clothing from Inglis. Mayor Corbin was reelected to a fourth term.
Inglis fled the state. Inglis had been released on $25,000 bond. Inglis was arrested in Portland, Oregon and waived extradition back to Colorado. Inglis alleged that she fled because of threats on her life. Her new bond was set at $506,000 by Judge Kenneth Stuart and was returned to the Arapahoe County jail. In November, Inglis pled guilty in exchange for a plea bargain agreement. In January 1983, Inglis was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Fourteen years was for theft and two years was for bond jumping. Inglis later walked away from a minimum security facility in Denver. Inglis would have been eligible for parole in April 1987 after her sentence was reduced by District Court Judge Robert Kelley.
Inglis was caught after being arrested in California on May 2, 1986 on new embezzlement charges in that state. Inglis had used a new alias of Kathleen Kelly Johnson to get a job in California. Her identity was discovered after her fingerprints were checked. Inglis had been one of nine fugitives on the Colorado Bureau of Investigations most wanted list. Inglis was arrested for embezzling $29,000 from Stadium Motor Sports in Laguna Hills, California according to Lt. Richard Olson of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
During the interim, Lt. Lynn Spears from the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department was appointed as the Acting Chief of Police. He was sworn in on Friday, March 5, 1982. Mayor Corbin was later recalled from office as part of the fall out stemming from the embezzlement.
Following a two month, nationwide search Joseph Stephenson Jr. was hired as the new Chief of Police for Sheridan. Stephenson was a former police captain at Cherry Hills Village and for the past two years was the Chief of Police for Sydney, Nebraska. A review board composed of Cherry Hills Police Chief Charles Wood, Broomfield Police Chief Pat Ahlstrom, Thornton Police Chief Doug Franks, and a representative of the Colorado State Patrol helped select Stephenson from more than 100 applicants.
The new chief set out to chart a new course for the department. Stephenson said, "Hopefully, people will form a good opinion of me and not judge me by what my predecessor has done." Stephenson started to make changes quickly, starting with written guidelines for officers. He had found two outdated procedure manuals from the early 70s. "That's the way they do things in a small town. It's fine when there are only two or three people in the department, but we have 16 officers here. We're dealing with complex crimes; Sheridan is no longer a small town." Stephenson also deemphasized ticketing because of the of the city's reputation of being a speed trap. "Things didn't get like this overnight, and they're not going to be cleared up overnight." "It's unfortunate that the police department got dragged into it (Inglis embezzlement) because of the actions of one man [Acting Chief Dale Carter, although some blamed Patterson]. The employees weren't involved at all, yet they'll have to try to live that down for a long time."
Three year old Lori Poland was kidnapped about 12:45 p.m. on Monday, August 22, 1983 near her home in the 3200 block of W. Bear Creek Drive. After interviewing neighborhood children and adults in the area the police started looking for a Datsun four door, faded orange or brown car, with black stripes down the side, and a partial license plate of ADV-2. The description came from one child playing with Poland before she was kidnapped and a nearby resident.
Her mother was at work while her father was inside their house at the time. After seeking approval from the City Administrator and the Mayor, the police department contacted the local media for help. The Amber Alert system would not come into existence in Colorado until 2002.
Lori was found the following Thursday morning. Steven and Cynthia Gaulin, bird watchers from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania were wandering through the Stapleton Park. They had been wandering through the park for two hours near the Chief Hosa exit of I70. Mrs. Gaulin heard cries after using an outhouse along with her husband. "The two searched around the area. Then they heard a girl cry, 'Mommy.' They called back for her. She said, 'I'm here. They looked under the floor of the outhouse and into the pit and saw her. They asked 'What are you doing.' She replied, 'I live here.'"
The Gaulin's summoned the Highland Rescue squad from a phone booth at the Chief Hosa Campground. Lori was pulled from the pit by Highland rescue volunteer Steve Bakker. No one knows how long she was in the outhouse pit. Lori was taken to St. Anthony's Hospital. Lori was reunited with her parents at the hospital.
Then twenty-one year Robert Paul Thiret surrendered himself to police on September 5, 1983 and was arrested. He was taken to the Arapahoe County Jail with a $250,000 bond. Thiret became a suspect the day the abduction. His vehicle was a 1972 Datsun 510 and fit the description of the vehicle that was given to police the day of the abduction.
He was charged after hair samples in the car matched Lori's hair. Three year old Lori identified Thiret in a police video line up and from photo line up. "He did it. He put me in the hole," said Lori. Thiret proclaimed his innocence and said he was home at the time of the kidnapping. Thiret was charged with two counts of kidnapping, sexual assault on a child, child abuse, and attempted murder. Thiret was provided with public defenders including Craig Truman and Pat Vance. Truman challenged Lori's identification of Thiret during the police lineups. The defense filed more than thirty motions to the court before the trial date.
There were several audio and visual tapes made during interviews with Lori by police and Dr. Jones. The defense argued the tapes should not be admitted into evidence at the trial. There was also a legal dispute whether Thiret had properly been advised his rights before his arrest. Prosecuting attorney John Jordan later argued, "The court must remember that Lori Poland had not even been found at that point." He further stated, "Lori Poland was still down that hole if she was alive, she wasn't going to be alive much longer and we must move quickly." The defense also threatened to subpoena Lori's parents for the trial.
The defense attorneys filed motions stating that two recently passed laws preventing cross examination of kidnapping victims were unfair. Thiret entered five not guilty pleas. His attorneys also sought a change of venue. The trial was set for March 1984. It was later moved to October 1984. The delay was caused when an appeal was made to the state Supreme Court by the prosecuting attorneys. The Supreme Court ruled the prosecutors could use evidence that had been previously ruled out by Judge Friedman.
The judge finally ruled on all the motions, which both sides described as a mixed bag. Prosecuting Attorneys Jim Peters and John Jordan said they would review the judge's rulings before deciding how to proceed. The ruling had been made after eight days of testimony, which requested that evidence be suppressed from the searches of Thiret's home and car. The judge denied the motion to drop the sexual assault charge. Judge Friedman also ruled that Lori would not be placed on the stand during the trial.
An October 23, 1984 trail date was set for jury selection. In September 1984 a plea bargain was reached. A confession was written by Robert Thiret and admitted into court. According to public defender Craig Truman, Thiret is "a guilty man who is settling up." In return for the guilty plea the charges of kidnapping, and child abuse, and committing a crime of violence were dropped. Thiret was sentenced to ten years for sexual assault. Judge Friedman said in accepting the plea bargain "If I accept the plea bargain, some might consider it a slap on the wrist." He added that he accepted it "with a great deal of reluctance."
Arapahoe District Attorney Robert Gallagher Jr. said, "People are mad, they don't understand it." Robert Thiret was sentenced to ten years in prison. "Ten years is better than nothing," said Gallagher. He said the case was weak, as some of the evidence had been ruled inadmissible by the judge. "I didn't feel we had an excellent chance of winning."
Although the Poland's were disappointed with the plea bargain and sentence, Richard Poland said it is "better than nothing at all." It also spared the Poland's from reliving the case in the courtroom. It was estimated the case legal costs were more than $350,000. Not to mention the several thousands of dollars paid by Sheridan taxpayers for police overtime and special forensics costs approved by the Sheridan City Council.
Robert Thiret spent a total of six years in jail and the state penitentiary and was released on December 7, 1990. Thiret is currently a registered sex offender in the state of California.
The city held a regular election during November 1985. Later it would prove to be significant for the department as Police Commissioner Stephen Cochran chose not to run for reelection. On January 13, 1986 new council member Clifford Mueller was selected by the City Council to be the Director of Police, commonly called the Police Commissioner.
The position of city administrator and city manager had been discussed several times over the years. In February, 1986 an ordinance was drafted which officially created the position of "City Administrator" with all department heads reporting to this position. The adoption of the ordinance would eliminate the position of Police Commissioner. A public hearing was set for March 25, 1986. The hearing lasted all of twenty minutes. The ordinance was adopted on first reading on March 25, 1986. An update to Chapter 16 of the Code or Ordinances about "Offenses - Miscellaneous Provisions" was introduced and adopted on first reading by the City Council. This allowed many offenses to be prosecuted in the municipal court instead of the county court.
Chief Stephenson's resignation was given. The resignation was unanimously accepted by the City Council. It was reported that Stephenson had resigned because of the change in the city's administrative structure. Police Captain Michael T. Chick became the acting Chief of Police. Chick's appointment as Acting Chief of Police was confirmed by the City Council on April 8, 1986. The ordinance creating the City Administrator position was adopted on second reading that same evening and became effective thirty days later.
The city took three months in searching for a new chief. A search and review committee included three police chiefs from the metropolitan area, City Council members Aileen Marple and Clifford Mueller, and Jim Curnes the City Administrator. Seventy applications were received. That number was reduced to twenty-one based on review scores from the committee. The committee then met and decided to interview seven applicants including two from within the department. The committee came up with two final candidates for the City Administrator.
Jack VanArsdol was recommended to the City Council by Jim Curnes. VanArsdol had twenty-five years of police experience including the Greeley Police Department, the Weld County Sheriff's Department, and as the Chief of the Fruita, Colorado Police Department. At the end of his tenure in Weld County VanArsdol was the Undersheriff. While in Fruita, VanArsdol had also served as the Acting Director of Public Works. The City Council unanimously approved the appointment of VanArsdol as the Chief of Police effective July 1, 1986. Captain Michael Chick did a good job as the Acting Police Chief. Chick later on left the department to become the Police Chief of Parker, Colorado.
The new chief was faced with several pressing issues including a kidnapping, homicide, getting ready for the new municipal center, and bringing the department's new computer system on line. The homicide occurred at the adult book store on Santa Fe Drive. The department was confronted by another homicide just one month later in a residential neighborhood.
1987 was a very busy year for the department with a lot of activities, a new chief, and a move to the new municipal center. The new chief refocused the department, which resulted in reduced crimes in the city. Part 1 crimes for the year were decreased by 33.6 percent over the prior year. Stolen property decreased by 27.7 percent and recovered property increased by 62 percent.
The construction of the new municipal center in 1987 started to put a cash flow strain on the city. Refinancing of the municipal center helped to relieve some of the cash flow problem but did not end the problem. A reduction in force was undertaken. Two positions in the police department were vacated in 1988 by attrition. The department had gone through the process of the reduction in force. With two resignations (a police officer and Captain Chick), the reduction in force did not affect the police department.
The cash flow problem became more pronounced in 1989. During the council meeting of April 25, 1989 a major concern was the cash flow analysis that had been requested. The council received and accepted the resignation of the City Administrator. The resignation of the Assistant City Administrator was accepted. The council then appointed Police Chief Jack VanArsdol as the Acting City Administrator. Chief VanArsdol reluctantly accepted the Acting City Administrator appointment.
During April, a $30,000 cash deficit had been forecasted to occur in the fall. There was a savings with the elimination of the Assistant City Administrator position. There was another savings, as the City Administrator's position was not filled for seven months. The city staff worked hard to reduce expenses. Part of the land next to the old city hall had been sold. The citizens of the city voted to approve a one half percent sales tax increase in August 1989 to go into effect on January 1, 1990. Thomas H. Palmer came on board as the City Administrator on December 11, 1989 and Chief VanArsdol resumed his duties as police chief on a full time basis.
1990 started as a quiet year. With a new City, Administrator on board Chief VanArsdol could once again focus on the police department. A computer upgrade needed to be completed and personnel issues had to be addressed. One new idea was for the use reserve officers (volunteers) on a part time paid basis to fill in for dispatchers and to help with the court functions.
In another first for the department during April, 1990 Police Officer Mary Nixon was promoted to sergeant. This marked the first time in the history of the department that a woman held a commissioned supervisory position within the department. In another first, the department started the use of cellular phones by the patrol sergeants. The centennial of the city was celebrated on September 15, 1990. The department participated in the event and provided traffic control for the parade. The celebration would turn into an annual event.
The year was capped off with the installation of the "Enhanced 911" system also known as E911. With this system, 911 calls are made directly to the police department. In addition, the address of the calling party would now be displayed for the dispatcher.
1992 was a quiet year for the most part in the police department. Budget cuts were made from all the departments within the city. It was a prelude of things to come. Kris Oegerle, a civilian, took over more administrative responsibility in oversight of the communications technicians including both dispatching and records. The highlights of the summer included the senior picnic at Sheridan High School.
On August 15, 1993 several police officers, many reserves, and explorers assisted with the Pope John Paul II's visit at Cherry Creek State Park for World Youth Day. Thank you letters were received from the Aurora Police and Greenwood Village Police Departments. Officers receiving thank you letters from the Greenwood Village Police Chief Rick Waugh included Charles Henage, Joe Balusek, Sue [Irwin] Ratcliff, Michael Greenwell, Eric Evangelista, John Iantorno, Nick Werth, and Robert Hoffman.
KMart announced the sale of Pace Warehouse to Wal-Mart in December 1992. Sheridan had experienced a ten percent revenue drop in sales taxes in 1993. The sale to Wal-Mart was completed in November 1993. It was announced that Wal-Mart would sell the Pace Warehouse on West Oxford Avenue and the speculation began on the closure of the Oxford location.
With no buyer, Wal-Mart scheduled the closure of the Pace Warehouse in Sheridan to be completed by January 1, 1994. The loss of Pace Warehouse threw the city into a budget crisis. One third of the city budget, about one million dollars was slashed overnight and about seventeen positions were cut. Seven paid positions were cut from the fire department. Three police ` positions were cut from the department. Three civilian positions were cut. Later the dispatching operation would be reduced with part contracted to the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department.
The City Administrator Thomas Palmer recommended that his own position be cut. Fire Chief Mark Wallace assumed the responsibilities once held by Palmer. Wallace would eventually assume the position of Public Safety Director. The Police Chief position was also cut at the request of Chief VanArsdol and those responsibilities were given to Wallace. It would be a over a year and half before Wallace would get relief when the Police Chief position would be reinstated and filled by Michael Maudlin. It was too late, as a burned out Wallace would resign three months later.
All of the gains the department made over the past ten years were lost. The high standards that had been set by the department in the past four years would suffer dramatically. It would take almost ten years for the city and the police department to completely recover. The next few years in the department were all about survival. With a city and department budget chopped by a third, it was a matter of making the most of the dollars that were available. There was no more money for innovative technology or new programs. The question became how many cuts and reductions could be made in expenses and personnel without jeopardizing the safety of the citizens. Gone at the end of 1993 was the Police Chief Jack VanArsdol. Within a month the positions of a police sergeant, three police officers, a secretary, and two communications technicians were cut.
A new schedule calling for police officers to work six days on followed by three days off was adopted. Firefighters were trained for relieving dispatchers for breaks and lunches. It did not take two months before the late night dispatch position from 11:00 pm to 7:00 am was cut. The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department picked up the dispatching function for that period of the day. The switch over to Arapahoe County caused some difficulties. The department then filled the open dispatch position with a former firefighter.
Mark Wallace, the Public Safety Director had no previous experience
in supervising police officers. Wallace survived an attempt to
remove him as Public Safety Director in November 1994 with three
City Council members voting for removal and four against. There
was another attempt to remove Wallace one month later that also
failed. The attempts to remove Wallace would continue until he
resigned in November, 1995. During 1994 a total of six officers
left the department with a total of forty-three years experience
with the department. This was in addition to the loss of Chief
VanArsdol with more than seven years service to the department
and more than thirty-two years experience in law enforcement.
Michael Maudlin was hired as the new Police Chief and started on August 14, 1995.
Wallace resigned three months later in November, 1995. During his short tenure, Chief Maudlin was able to address the issue of vehicles. Two new vehicles were purchased along with two used vehicles. The Chief took the opportunity to assign reserve police officers to different parts of the department including investigations, communications, evidence, and patrol. This provided relief to areas that had much need because of the lack of resources over the past year and a half. It also provided an opportunity for the reserves to gain broader experience within the department. For the first time in a year and half a monthly report from the department was provided to the City Council.
It was clear the concept of a Director of Public Safety was not successful. The City Council decided to return to a City Administrator. Reluctantly, Chief Maudlin served as the Acting City Administrator until the time he left the city in March 1996. After an extensive selection process, Randy Young became the City Administrator in April 1996.
Chief Ray Sample got involved with the police department when he was appointed as a reserve police officer upon the recommendation of then Police Chief Joseph Stephenson on November 22, 1983. Ray's first paid position was that of a part time dispatcher. In March, 1985 he was made a full time dispatcher. After being a dispatcher for one and half years. The department agreed to pay Ray's certification to be a police officer. It was an easy choice given his success as a reserve officer and dispatcher. In April 1986 he became a full time police officer. With all of his experience as a reserve officer and a dispatcher, Ray started patrolling the streets by himself after only three days training from the field training officer.
In 1988, Ray developed the Explorer Post program for the department. The Explorer Post is a legacy that lives on through this day. That same year he was selected as the police officer of the year and honored by the VFW Post #9644. Next was his appointment as detective followed by time spent as the field training officer. Ray was promoted to sergeant in February 1995. Also during 1995, Sergeant Sample took over the privatization of the public works activities as the department had been eliminated by the city. It was costly and time consuming. It would be about a year before the Public Works Department was reestablished. Ray wrote the grant request for the replacement of the Oxford Avenue Bridge over the South Platte River.
Chief Michael Maudlin resigned from the department after just seven months in the position. Maudlin left to become the Police Chief for Commerce City. The city needed stability in the chief's position. Once again, Lynn Spears from the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department was appointed as the acting Chief for the department.
With the gloomy financial picture for the city, only ten qualified applicants applied for the position. An oral board was composed to help the council with the selection. Participating on the oral board were Chief Tony Lane, Town of Parker; Chief Rick Waugh, City of Greenwood Village; and Chief Ken Burge, City of Glendale. Sample made his case for the position. Ray stated his goal was "To lead the Sheridan Police Department into the next century as the Chief of Police where I plan to retire." The oral board recommended two candidates Gary Caponera and Ray Sample. Randy Young, the brand new City Administrator made an "unqualified recommendation" to select Ray Sample. There was only two other people with more time and experience from inside the department. Sample was unanimously approved by the council to be the Chief on Police effective on May 15, 1996. Very quickly, the new chief met with Sheriff Patrick Sullivan. The chief started addressing training issues within the department. Next was building back up the reserves for the department. Another task was to upgrade the computer file server for the city. The system was failing and hampering police department data entries and record keeping.
In June, a reorganization of the department was proposed. The City Council did not accept the proposal and sent the chief back to the drawing board. The chief came back with a new proposal, which created one division commander. The commander would focus on the operation of the department, which would allow the chief to focus on issues that are more external. On October 28, 1997, Sergeant Leslie J. Murray was promoted from Sergeant to Police Commander.
Since the loss of Pace Warehouse and the staff cutbacks, the department had been undermanned. In May 1998, the city obtained a $687,600 federal grant from the Justice Departments Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The grant paid for five positions. The grant brought the staffing of the department back up to twenty-one officers. The city's budget was so strapped that it could not afford the twenty-five percent match usually required for the grant. A waiver for the matching funds was granted. All five officers were hired from the department's reserve forces. Officers hired under the grant were Bryan Faulkner, Gary Firko, Russel McConaha, Troy Otsby, and Larry Goodson.
Forty-two year old James Grady was arrested on April 5, 2002 for suspected child pornography. Grady used his business located in Sheridan to take "modeling" pictures of under aged girls. Grady claimed that he had permission from the girl's parents before taking the pictures. It was reported the girls only had permission to do "modeling." Some of the pictures were placed on websites operated by Grady.
In March 2003, Grady was acquitted by an Arapahoe County District Jury on 39 counts of charges of sexual exploitation of children. The jury deliberated about half a day before reaching their verdict. Judge James F. Macrum Jr. ruled that prosecutors needed to show that Grady was sexually aroused by the material. Deputy District Attorney Robert Chappell said that he thought that is why the jury came back with the acquittal. Chappell said, "They were required to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was personally sexually gratified or aroused as he produced these materials, and they couldn't find that."
Several of the models testified in the case. "Every model said they saw no sign of his sexual gratification or stimulation," said defense attorney Michael P. Miller. Miller continued, "I would call this a victory for the First Amendment and for those trying to prevent the government from controlling thought." Grady spent almost a year in jail awaiting his trial and acquittal.
Chief Ray Sample was "fired" by the City Council. on May 7, 2002. The reasons for the firing were never made public although it was alleged that Sample was fired for insubordination. The other perspective was that Sample was fired because he blew the whistle on three city employees that had accessed "child pornography" from Grady's website.
Mayor Egan was on the record as saying, "I don't believe the two are related." Egan further alleged that he was "locked out of city hall" earlier in the year by Chief Sample. The allegation came after a touch pad door locking system was installed in the city hall. However, Mayor Egan still had his own master key to city hall. The City Council was split on the issue as they voted four to three to dismiss Sample.
"The dismissal may have been the result of years of friction between Sample and Egan." That comment was attributed to Councilmember Jose Tafoya. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigation was undertaken on the allegation of the pornographic computer downloads by city employees. Sample was dismissed before the CBI investigation was completed. Mayor Egan said that Sample was given a packet one week before the dismissal and was asked to respond.
[Author's Note: The inference made by Mayor Egan about the packet was that Chief Sample did not adequately respond. Research for this book found evidence that showed Chief Sample responded on a timely basis and in great detail. The City Council had approved the touch pad locking system prior to installation, in response to recommendations made to improve security after the attacks on September 11, 2001.]
The CBI Investigation results were later turned over to the District Attorney. The District Attorney declined to file any charges against any city employees stating that two of three employees were acting in the scope of their duties. Mayor Egan said, "Normally, this would have been an issue handled by our city administrator, but we are in the process of hiring a new administrator so the council acted on the issue." Councilmember Don Smith said, "I feel it was case of Ray getting fired for being the messenger who brought the council bad news."
Assistance was requested from the Arapahoe County's Sheriff's office to provide an interim replacement for Sample. Captain Mark Campbell from the Sheriff's office was appointed as the Acting Police Chief. However, Mark Campbell was only at the department a few hours each day. The day to day administration was handled by Commander Murray.
Chief Sample retained an attorney. Sample's stated desire was to become reemployed by the city. Later it was revealed that Sample had brought to the attention of the council a complaint from a female police employee of sexual harassment. The complaint stemmed from one of employees that had accessed pornography on a city computer. The female employee was later denied a new position.
It was later confirmed that three employees had used city computers to access pornographic materials. Two of the employees had accessed the material in conjunction with the Grady case. The third employee had no legitimate reason for accessing the material. They had been inadvertently observed accessing the material by the female police employee.
The dismissal of Chief Sample brought such an outcry from the citizens that recall petitions were circulated to remove the Mayor and three other council members that voted for the dismissal. A recall election was held in October 2002. Mayor Egan and council members Vicki Johnson and Aileen Marple were recalled from office. Council member Dallas Hall retained his council position. Mary Carter was elected to replace Mayor Egan. Clifford Mueller, a former council member, was elected to replace Vicki Johnson, and Chanele Beacham was elected to replace Aileen Marple.
After being recalled, former Mayor Egan chose to move outside of the city. The recall election gave Sample the opportunity for getting his job back. Sample had already been awarded unemployment benefits. The Colorado Department of Employment reviewed the dismissal charges and ruled in favor of Sample.
The city's insurance company, the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency helped the new council in reviewing all documents relating to the dismissal. The newly seated City Council reinstated Chief Sample on November 5, 2002. The council also approved a settlement with Sample for $33,588 in lost pay and $10,215 for attorney's fees and $5,000 in compensatory damages. It was clear that Sample wanted his job back and was not interested in the one million dollar suit that had been planned. The council voted six to one to reinstate Sample. All the other three administrative city employees that had been involved in the pornography computer down loads left the employment of the city on their own.
The closure of PACE Warehouse at the end of 1993 caused a reduction of officers for the department. In 1998, the department got a federal a grant that restored five officer positions to the department. The grant was for a three year period, which ended in 2001. The city had an obligation under terms of the grant to maintain the five positions. The original 2002 budget proposed the five positions be eliminated. That resulted in a vote of no confidence in the City Administrator Randy Young by the police and fire department personnel. The five positions were retained.
In 2004, the citizens of the city approved a use tax and an occupational tax. All proceeds from the two new tax sources were dedicated to the police, fire, and public works departments. That allowed the police department to add three new positions. The positions added were a school resource officer, one additional detective, and one additional patrol officer. That brought the staffing level of commissioned paid police officers to twenty-four. For the first time since the department was created in 1959 it had a paid commissioned staff appropriate to meet the needs of the city.
|This is a condensed version of the "History of the Sheridan Police Department." The full version includes seventy-five pictures and is now available. The suggested donation for the book is $25.00 plus $5.00 for shipping and handling. Book Request Form|
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