Aspen police to undergo voluntary audit
ASPEN – The Aspen Police Department’s policies and procedures will be subject to the scrutiny of an audit conducted over the next month, Police Chief Richard Pryor said Tuesday.
Pryor said the audit, which is voluntary, will be conducted by Don Montgomery, a retired police chief and owner and CEO of Professional Police Consulting LLC, based in Westminster. Montgomery’s contract stipulates that he will earn fees of no more than $5,500, based on 40 hours of observation of the police department, Pryor said.
The police chief said he consulted with City Manager Steve Barwick about conducting an audit. The decision was based partly on what Pryor called “recent public concerns about our personnel issues and the procedural problems we have had in court.”
Over the past three years, the police department has seen the departure of approximately six officers, including one police chief, because of improper conduct. And in some instances, the department’s handling of evidence and arrests has resulted in some cases being dismissed, as well as evidence being suppressed.
Pryor said he views the audit as a constructive way to improve the police department.
“We need to be humble about our approach to law enforcement, and also recognize that we don’t know everything,” he said.
Pryor said that 10 random cases, both active and closed, will be reviewed by the auditor. The auditor will scrutinize the evidence that pertains to the cases, as well as police procedure.
Montgomery will also review the department’s policies concerning use of force, among other things, Pryor said.
Pryor said once the audit is complete – by the end of May – he plans to review the suggestions and possibly implement them. Taking the suggestions of the auditor also is a step toward the department receiving accreditation by the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, Pryor said.
“Accreditation enhances our credibility in terms of policy and procedure,” Pryor said.
He added that “having the weight of a state organization behind the police department” could result in lower insurance rates.
Pryor said he does not expect the audit to make the police department more rigid.
“Compared to other police departments, we have very few bullet-point policies,” he said. “That’s not what the community wants us to do. It wants us to show creativity and initiative.”
Along those same lines, Pryor said he is open to feedback from Aspen residents, and encourages them to contact him with any issues or concerns.
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