Split complete between Basalt and ex-police chief Roderick O’Connor

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times

The parting of ways between Basalt town government and its former police chief, Roderick O’Connor, is complete, according to Town Manager Mike Scanlon.

O’Connor accepted an overdue payment from the town to satisfy a settlement package, Scanlon said.

“I think we’re all done with Roderick,” Scanlon said. “He accepted the payment and signed an agreement that we would not litigate in the future.”

O’Connor received an $83,944 package when he resigned Nov. 22. It included 10 months of pay, compensation for unused vacation time and health coverage for him and his wife.

He was paid half of the package when he resigned. The other half was due May 1, but the town balked at paying the second half. Officials said O’Connor violated an agreement to keep materials related to his resignation confidential. He shared a report about his professional conduct with the city of Aspen when he applied to be a police officer. The report was commissioned by the town of Basalt after it received complaints from a police officer about her treatment by O’Connor. The report showed several members of the Police Department were critical of O’Connor’s management style.

The Aspen Times sued the town to try to force the release of the report to the public. The town said the report could be withheld as part of O’Connor’s personnel record. The newspaper prevailed in court.

Scanlon previously said the town wouldn’t have withheld the report and fought the court battle if officials had known O’Connor had shared the report with the Aspen Police Department. The information was disclosed in the court hearing.

The Town Council and Scanlon decided to honor the second half-payment after deliberating in a closed session July 9.

The total expense to the town of O’Connor’s departure was $180,217.10. In addition to the settlement package of $83,944, the town was ordered to pay the newspaper’s legal fees of $53,566. The town also paid $42,707.10 to its contract attorney to engage in litigation and work on O’Connor settlement issue.