By J. David McSwane
Suspended CSU Police Chief Dexter Yarbrough refutes that he delivered several questionable and alarming lectures Wednesday and lashed back at the student who recorded his statements, which were detailed in this newspaper on Tuesday.
Yarbrough – the highest paid police chief in the state at $156,000 a year – was suddenly put on paid administrative leave Dec. 19 for separate, apparently unrelated allegations, school officials said.
Citing strict personnel laws, details about the suspension and an ongoing inquiry headed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation haven’t been divulged.
In the audio, which was picked up by Denver media outlets after a Collegian report, Yarbrough advised students in a classroom to provide illicit drugs as payment to informants, to cut corners in police work and condoned the use of excessive force against suspects.
“We may decide to give the informant 10 of those (crack cocaine) rocks. OK,” Yarbrough said to his criminal investigations class, for which he is additionally compensated as an adjunct instructor.
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? â€¦ 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? Didn’t I tell you guys that? If I didn’t, there you go.”
But the audio – snippets totaling about 28 minutes in length – was taken out of context, Yarbrough says. The Collegian was not provided and has not reviewed the full recordings from the class lectures in question.
“As typical of all my courses, I attempt to give students a realistic view on how policing works – both good and bad,” Yarbrough said in a statement. “During one particular class, I was illustrating how sometimes police officers cross the line in order to catch drug dealers. In no way was I condoning the behavior, I was simply illustrating it. I have taught at CSU for over 4 [four] years, and I have provided the same information in a dramatic fashion.”
Yarbrough, along with nine other professors on campus, won the Best Teacher of the Year Award in 2007, and in anonymous and unofficial evaluations the CSU teacher evaluation site, RamRatings.com, received top scores.
But Aaron Gropp, the 38-year-old graduate student and former Larimer County Sheriff’s Deputy who recorded the lectures, said he began recording the lectures after the chief told student in the class, “Women want the dick, even when they say ‘no.’ They want the dick.”
In response to allegations of sexist comments in the classroom, Yarbrough said: “In no way was I purposely being sexist towards women. I was simply illustrating points in the class. I have always been a big supporter of women, as well as diversity, inside and outside the classroom.”
But Yarbrough accused Gropp of purposefully taking the statements out of context to “retaliate” because the student wasn’t happy with his grade.
Gropp, who received an incomplete for the course, maintains that the audio was not taken out of context.
“What a liar,” he said simply Wednesday night.
Yarbrough defended his teaching style and declined to comment further about several allegations against him from officers under his command.
“I won Best Teacher of Year in 2007,” Yarbrough said. “I don’t do that (by condoning) illegal behavior.”
In Tuesday’s Collegian, an article titled “Abuse of Power” implied that CSUPD Sgt. Edward Bozic changed or replaced a filed police report in which Chief Dexter Yarbrough’s cruiser had sustained damage. After interviews with Bozic, other police officers and a review of the incident reports, the Collegian has found this to be incorrect. Yarbrough ordered Bozic to file an accidental damage report. When Bozic inspected the damage, however, he determined that the report should be filed as a traffic accident report in which the chief was believed to be responsible for the damage. When Bozic approached Yarbrough, he said, the chief was displeased with the findings and ordered him to file it differently. “I did not file an accidental damage report,” Bozic said Wednesday. “I didn’t do anything the chief wanted me to do. I was actually the one who blew the whistle on this.” Bozic filed one report, a “hit and run” report still available in CSUPD records, the Collegian confirmed. Swenson filed a later report charging the chief with being responsible for the accident, concluding that the cruiser had struck a rock or curb. That report was separate from Bozic’s on Tuesday. The Collegian regrets the error.
Enterprise Editor J. David McSwane can be reached at email@example.com.