Aspen police in limbo
Aspen Times Staff Writer
ASPEN ” A dozen Aspen police officers showed up at Zele Cafe on Thursday afternoon for a monthly community coffee event, and many expressed a wait-and-see attitude during a rough time for the Aspen Police Department.
“It’s nice to have Mick [Ireland] over here to support us,” said APD officer Walter Chi, gesturing to the Aspen mayor. “I don’t know that the patrol is doing anything different.”
Police Chief Loren Ryerson has been on paid administrative leave for nearly two weeks; he is under investigation as a result of sexual harassment allegations brought against him.
Beyond that, two assistant chief positions are open, one detective position is open and the current detective is training a new recruit during nights. Further, numerous sergeants have been promoted recently.
When acting police chief Richard Pryor went to New Orleans for a convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, two sergeants tag-teamed on chief duties ” Bill Linn and Brian Nichols.
Pryor said he thought it was entirely appropriate to go to New Orleans even though the command structure he left behind was minimal. He said it was important to attend the convention for the education and training it provided.
City Manager Steve Barwick, who was at the coffee shop showing support for the police department, said he expected the investigation into Ryerson to take at least another week. For now, he just wanted to support the cops who are currently on the job.
“They’re doing a great job on the street,” Barwick said. “They have a lot of community support, they’re real professionals, and they have unique skills I really appreciate.”
While the city has confirmed that the investigation centers around sexual harassment allegations, the probe ultimately will determine if Ryerson was involved in improper conduct.
The investigation is being conducted by the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA), which serves as the city’s risk manager. It’s unknown when CIRSA will complete the investigation and when ” or if ” Ryerson will return back to work.
As for Thursday afternoon, it was unclear how many police were actually out on the streets considering the number at the coffee. Perhaps they were responding much like the 15-or-so civilians who showed up for the conversation and free coffee, though there was a lack of doughnuts.
“We don’t eat doughnuts,” said Chi, “we eat croissants.”
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The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals this week affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit against the city of Aspen that challenged its zoning laws concerning Mill Street Plaza, which is home to locally serving businesses.