Department Pursues Changes Sparked by Internal Investigation
Earlier this month, the Woodland Park Police Department announced the promotion of four officers to supervisory roles leading to a complete restructuring of the department’s leadership roles.
The moves have come after the police agency has experienced a significant amount of turmoil over the last year.
The leadership change first started when previous Police Chief Miles DeYoung was put on paid leave due to an investigation surrounding workplace misconduct. In the end, DeYoung retired after the investigation, conducted by a third party, recommended his termination.
Then shortly after the police chief was put on leave, Commanders Andy Liebrand and Ryan Holzwarth were put on administrative leave surrounding a criminal investigation. The criminal investigation is still open, but neither of the commanders are employed with the department.
An independent investigation conducted by the city led to the termination of Commander Liebrand and Patrol Sergeant Mike McDaniel after it found them negligent in how they dealt with a welfare call that turned into a suicide.
The city also conducted a second investigation into Commander Holzwarth and it found some concerning behavior. However, according to Interim Deputy Police Chief Rodney Gehrett, Holzwarth has since resigned from his position with the police department.
After DeYoung retired, Stephen Hasler was hired as the city’s interim police chief until the position is filled permanently. Then, Gehrett was hired as the interim deputy police chief to conduct the role of the two previous commanders.
After the patrol sergeant position became open, the department made promotions as a part of their restructuring. “These promotions occurred to fill position vacancies,” Gehrett said. “And in the process of filling the vacancies, we did away with two corporal positions and replaced those with sergeant positions. Our goal is to have a supervisor on every shift to address issues as they arise.”
Now the department has three patrol sergeant positions and one detective sergeant role. Sergeants Dena Currin and Richard Avery were promoted from patrol corporals to patrol sergeants. Beth Huber remains in her spot as the third patrol sergeant.
Meanwhile, Patrol Corporal Courtney Ledvina was promoted from that of an officer position. Detective Sergeant Shannon Everhart was promoted to her current position after serving as a detective. Everhart will now take on additional roles in her new position as well as leading the investigations division.
The department’s next efforts will be to fill the interim police chief and interim deputy chief positions once their contracts expire in 2022.