Aspen police officer Walter Chi resigns after ‘he had not fully carried out his duties,’ chief says

Aspen Police Officer and Pitkin County Sheriff candidate Walter Chi during squirm night at GrassRoots in Aspen in October 2018.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

An Aspen police officer who unsuccessfully ran for Pitkin County sheriff last year resigned from the department under a cloud earlier this week after a 26-year career, the police chief said Friday.

Officer Walter Chi’s resignation was effective Tuesday and came about after “recent information indicates that he had not fully carried out his duties,” according to a letter from Chief Richard Pryor.

“After an internal affairs investigation, I found it in the best interest of the community to ask Walter to resign,” Pryor said in the letter. “I understand many in the community will be surprised at this news especially knowing Walter as a friend.

“Many of us at the Police Department are equally saddened at this situation.”

In a phone interview Friday, Pryor cited personnel rules and declined to release any other information detailing the specific situation or situations in which Chi did not do his job.

“The results of the internal investigation indicated it would be in the best interest of the department if he resigned,” Pryor said.

Messages left Friday for Chi seeking comment were not returned.

Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo beat Chi in November for his third term in office, winning with 79 percent of the vote.

Allegations that surfaced in the course of the campaign also alleged that Chi didn’t do his job as a police officer.

A detective with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office investigated Chi last fall for allegedly not reporting a child sexual assault he’d been told about three years before. Police officers, social workers and others who have contact with children are required by law to notify law enforcement if they hear of child abuse.

After reading a summary of the detective’s investigation, 9th Judicial District Attorney Jeff Cheney said he would have charged Chi with misdemeanor failure to report child abuse but the statute of limitations had already run out on the alleged crime.

“Accepting all the facts contained within your investigative report as true, I believe there was probable cause that Mr. Chi did fail to make a report mandated by (Colorado law),” Cheney wrote in a letter to the detective.

Chi said the person who told him about the incident three years ago never mentioned that it involved child sexual crimes and that he didn’t hear information he felt required to report.

“I didn’t have any knowledge to make a mandatory report, so I didn’t,” Chi said in October.

A 17-year-old Woody Creek resident is now charged with that alleged sexual assault, which occurred when the victim was 4 years old.