Yarbrough resigns once more

Jul 142009
Authors: J. David McSwane

Former CSU Police Chief Dexter Yarbrough, who resigned in the spring after a whirlwind of allegations of impropriety and a highly publicized personnel investigation, resigned Tuesday from his recently acquired officer post at Northern Illinois University.

“Northern Illinois University Department of Public Safety today announced the resignation of recent patrol hire Dexter Yarbrough,” according to a written statement released by NIU. “Yarbrough was hired by NIU Public Safety and began work with the campus police on June 29. He resigned his probationary position on July 14, 2009.”

Yarbrough, who also worked as associate vice president of CSU’s department of public safety, was placed on paid administrative leave Dec. 9 after at least one claim of sexual harassment made it to the President’s Office.

Numerous instances of alleged impropriety and alarming advice to students — in taped recordings he suggested that police officers should lie and cut corners — were also reported in this newspaper.

Prior to his resignation Yarbrough was easily the highest paid police officer in Colorado, earning $156,000 a year. At NIU, Yarbrough was earning $24.46 an hour — about $51,000 annually — The Daily Chronicle, the local newspaper in Dekalb, Ill., found.

The NIU police chief who hired Yarbrough, Donald Grady, did not return phone calls and e-mails from the Collegian. But he told the Chronicle that Yarbrough passed all the requirements and tests prior to being chosen among 180 applicants.

“He has no arrest record, no criminal history, no traffic violations,” Grady wrote in a July 2 e-mail to the Chronicle. “He is well-spoken, articulate, empathic and reverent of different races and cultures. He talks of sharing the vision and ideologies espoused by this department and practices that are reflective of sound, rational and compassionate policing. His background revealed no verifiable or substantiated disqualifying factors.”

In a Feb. 15, 2008 Chronicle article covering local reaction to a shooting spree at NIU that claimed the lives of six students and injured 16 more, Yarbrough referred to NIU Chief Grady as “one of my good friends and mentors.”

Yarbrough did not return calls and e-mails from the Collegian.

One officer formerly under Yarbrough’s command at CSU expressed surprise that the former chief was hired to again work in law enforcement after his extremely public departure. Yarbrough’s credibility is far too damaged, he says.

“If you just look at his paper credentials, he probably looks pretty good,” said Lt. Karl Swenson, a campus bomb expert and former CSUPD officer who once accused Yarbrough of falsifying police reports to the Larimer County District Attorney. “But if you send somebody out to the places where he’s worked, I wouldn’t hire him.”

CSU hasn’t released findings of its three-month-long probe into Yarbrough’s conduct — performed by a three-member team that included a member of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation — because they are part of a confidential personnel file.

Documents obtained by the Collegian in March, however, revealed a sexual harassment complaint filed by a CSUPD employee.

Yarbrough resigned March 6, after being confronted with the results of the CBI investigation.

CSU President Tony Frank and Yarbrough “mutually agreed” that the embattled chief should leave the university, according to a press release.

When the investigation ended Feb. 16, CSU officials said none of the investigation records would be revealed to the public, citing strict state and university personnel rules that prohibit their release.

Audio recordings taken by a student in his criminal investigations class, for which he acted as an adjunct instructor, illustrated what sources described as Yarbrough’s potentially illegal police behavior.

In one classroom lecture in spring 2008, Yarbrough advised his students to provide illicit drugs to informants as payment for information.

“We may decide to give the informant 10 of those (crack cocaine) rocks. OK,” Yarbrough said to his criminal investigations class.

In the recording, one student sought clarification on the chief’s advice, saying:

“So if a police officer gives an informant 10 rocks of crack, and they end up in the hospital, are they responsible for it at that point? . Because I could just say the police gave it to me?”

To the student’s question, Yarbrough responded:

“Let me tell you what I would do: You give it to them, but you let them know that, hey, if you get caught with this, you know, don’t say my name. Or if they get sick or something, I never gave them those (drugs).

“Didn’t I tell you guys that sometimes the police lie?”

Aaron Gropp, a 38-year-old CSU student who recorded the lectures, said Monday he was shocked to hear Yarbrough had even been hired at NIU.

“I guess they didn’t bother to Google his name,” he said.

Swenson agreed.

“If he (Yarbrough) was involved in some sort of big case with a defense attorney, these statements are going to come back to bite him,” he said Monday.

A national search committee headed by Vice President of Student Affairs Blanche Hughes is in the process of hiring a new CSUPD chief and has narrowed the selection to three final candidates.

Hughes said last week the committee is not following a specific timeline for selection but could make a decision as early as the end of the month.

News Managing Editor Madeline Novey contributed to this report.

Enterprise Editor J. David McSwane can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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