More to chief of police’s accelerated retirement
In his updated resignation letter, former Glenwood Springs Chief of Police Terry Wilson said he was put in an “untenable” position.
Last month, the city announced that after 35 years of service, Wilson would retire on Feb. 1, 2020 and assist in the national search for his replacement.
Neither will occur as planned.
In a letter dated Aug. 19 and addressed to City Manager Debra Figueroa and City Attorney Karl Hanlon, Wilson voiced his displeasure with Mayor Jonathan Godes and Councilman Tony Hershey.
“The state of the GSPD is poor at this time, largely attributable to Mr. Hershey and Mr. Godes listening to uninformed persons from within the Department and believing they have a role to play in addressing rumors and innuendo that frequently lack factual basis,” Wilson stated in the Aug. 19 letter. “Through their participation in what amounts to rumor mongering, and their failure to refer those complaints to the proper channels, they have done immense damage to the department.”
In an interview Monday, Wilson said the letter acquired by the Post Independent through a public records request was intended as private communication between himself and his boss, Figueroa.
Additionally, Wilson made clear that his comments concerning the state of the police department being “poor,” had nothing to do with its officers but instead poor communication.
“There is nothing here to me, in my opinion, that is worth airing in the public forum,” Wilson said Monday. “It is not corruption. It is not public safety. It is more of an internal matter between myself and a disagreement with practices of a couple of councilmen, hopefully that gets resolved.”
Wilson, declined to comment further on the specifics of those practices. However, in his letter Wilson stated that Godes and Hershey had empowered some within the department to “circumvent their chain of command.”
“Although I believe all of the [Councilors’] views are skewed, their actions in trying to micromanage personnel and other processes clearly defines their lack of confidence in me,” wrote Wilson. “I believe it also clearly defines their lack of understanding of their role in government and their lack of judgment.”
Wilson said Monday, that although health factored into his original, Feb. 1 retirement decision, it played no role in his decision to move it up to Sept. 2.
“I keep getting texts and calls [asking] ‘Are you OK, did something else happen?’” Wilson said. “It is so wonderful to hear that people are concerned but I don’t want them to think that’s it.”
Wilson, who suffered a heart attack in the past, said he was in great shape currently.
“My health is fine and I appreciate the concerns about it,” said Wilson. “But, if officers were going to other sources with their concerns, then there is an internal breakdown that I know from experience would be very difficult, very stressful to deal with. And, frankly, after my health scare last year, I didn’t feel like I could put the energy and the stress into it that it’s going to take to make it right.”
As of Sept. 3, Lieutenant Bill Kimminau has assumed the role of acting chief of police as the city conducts a national search for Wilson’s permanent replacement.
Sept. 3, council will hold a public work session at 6 p.m. in council chambers for councilors to provide their input concerning the chief of police search. The city has selected KRW Associates, based out of Colorado Springs, to conduct the national search. Additionally, Sept. 4 at 10 a.m., the business community and residents may provide their input to the selection committee also in council chambers located on the first floor of City Hall at 101 Eighth Street.
Wilson did not think it was appropriate for him to assist in the search for his replacement but said he had a great deal of respect for Figueroa, who as city manager ultimately will make the decision.
Figueroa has said she hopes to hire a new chief of police by year’s end following input from city employees and the public.
“While I am saddened by the departure of Chief Wilson, I have full confidence in Acting Chief Kimminau, Command Staff, and the entire Glenwood Springs Police Department,” said Figueroa. “The Department will continue to protect and serve the residents and businesses of Glenwood Springs.”
Councilor Hershey said he had the utmost respect for the Glenwood Springs Police Department and thanked Wilson for his service.
“After reviewing the letter I was disappointed that it wasn’t given to Council earlier,” Hershey said. “Especially, since it’s factually inaccurate and the first formal indication, actually that I had that chief Wilson was really angry with me.”
Hershey confirmed that as a city councilor he did receive complaints from city employees about their work environment and issues with their manager.
“It was employees of the city, whose manager was Terry Wilson,” Hershey said. “With any personnel issues I referred those employees to the city manager and the HR director. … I followed all of the proper procedures.”
Mayor Godes, in a prepared statement, called Wilson a “beloved police chief” and a valued city employee of 35 years.
Godes explained that Council existed for three reasons: to set policy, set a budget and to exercise supervision over the city manager and city attorney.
Godes said, as it pertained to running the city government and making day-to-day decisions, such a responsibility fell solely to the city manager.
“As city councilors, we are occasionally approached by city employees with ideas, thoughts, or problems. I listen, and then refer employees to their supervisor, or to the city manager as the ultimate supervisor for all city staff,” Godes wrote. “This is the appropriate role of council, and this is what I communicated to any employee, in any department over the two-plus years I have been on Council.”
Godes said in his role as mayor he does not direct the city manager nor does he interfere with Figueroa’s authority over staff matters.
“We do not micromanage city staff,” Godes wrote. “They have the experience, training, and leadership to handle staff issues in the appropriate manner.”
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Policy that dictates what for-profit activities should be officially sanctioned within Glenwood Springs parks is being reviewed by city staff and will likely come before the city council for final approval later this summer.