DENVER — A letter sent by Rep. Jason Crow to law enforcement agencies within his congressional district is getting mixed reviews, with most agencies contacted rejecting the 2nd term congressman’s unusual request, and one police chief calling it both inappropriate and a “witch hunt.”
Crow, a Democrat who represents the 6th Congressional district, sent the letter in the days following the attack on the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6.
In the letter, he asks police chiefs and sheriffs in his congressional district to “conduct urgent personnel reviews to identify individuals in their departments that participated in the acts of insurrection on January 6th,” the letter reads in part. “Any individuals identified should be subject to internal disciplinary action, including termination, and referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for investigation and prosecution, under applicable law.”
Complete Colorado obtained a copy of the letter and contacted the chiefs of police of Aurora, Brighton, and Greenwood Village, a few of the largest municipal departments within CD-6, and the elected sheriffs for Arapahoe, Adams and Douglas counties, all of which lie within the boundaries of the district. Aurora, Greenwood Village, Arapahoe and Douglas all said they would not be investigating or asking their officers about the incident.
Adams County was the only agency that confirmed it complied with the request. Adam Sherman, the public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office told Complete Colorado through voice mail that Sheriff Richard Reigenborn did inquire of all his deputies whether they had participated in the protest that led a small number of attendees to break in and vandalize the building.
“We have no reason to believe that any of our staff or employees were in D.C. or participated at anything at the capitol during the events leading up to the (attack on the capitol),” Sherman said.
Complete Colorado did not hear back from Brighton police, and a request to Crow’s office for comments had not been answered by press time.
Greenwood Village Police Chief Dustin Varney said he had a great conversation with Crow about his intent, but still found the request inappropriate, political and out of line.
“It was subjective and leveled accusations that lacked objectivity,” Varney told Complete Colorado. “It built up the barrier between law enforcement and community.”
Varney said he in no way is pushing back because he condones the actions of those who broke in and vandalized the Capitol building.
“It was an atrocity what happened,” Varney said. “They should all be prosecuted in my opinion following all the due process they are owed.”
However, Varney said it was that same due process that Crow’s letter lacked that led him to his decision.
“It was a great conversation,” Varney said. “I think his intentions were good, but the avenue he chose to communicate it was not appropriate. It was unacceptable.”
Varney said there were many problems with what Crow requested.
“It violated all due process laws,” Varney said, adding that it also ran afoul of contract laws, labor laws, collective bargaining issues, implied practices, etc. “I have a 100-man department. I can’t send them all through an investigation.”
One of Varney’s biggest concerns was the target that Crow put on the back of law enforcement, pointing out that there were congressional representatives at the protest as well as off duty fire fighters, among others, but only law enforcement was asked to investigate their staff — and then, only law enforcement in the 6th Congressional District.
“Did they send a letter to all the congressmen asking to be investigated?” Varney said. “Did they send a letter to all the fire chiefs? Why didn’t they send a letter to the governor and ask about the Colorado State Patrol? There were all walks of life there, but he targeted law enforcement because it’s the hot topic right now. It is a small finite few (law enforcement officers) that cause the problem for the masses that do good work. This just built up a larger barrier between law enforcement and the community. It’s a witch hunt.”
Varney called it unethical and added the fact that the only agencies to get the request were law enforcement within Crow’s district is what made it political.
“Let’s call it what it is,” Varney said. “It didn’t go to all seven (congressional districts), and it didn’t go to all walks of life. That’s what makes it political. They are mere allegations — a grab at the wind just because we want to look like we’re doing something good. If I had any indication that any of my officers were involved, I would absolutely discipline them, but it is not illegal if any of my folks just happened to be in D.C. outside the capitol on their day off.”
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