By J. David McSwane
Suspended CSU Police Chief Dexter Yarbrough appeared before a three-person investigative committee at Fort Collins Police headquarters Thursday afternoon to hear numerous complaints against him and to provide his own testimony, sources close to the investigation said.
Yarbrough was suddenly put on paid administrative leave and escorted off campus Dec. 19 and was stripped of his firearm and cruiser. In addition to his duties as chief, he was promoted last year to vice president of Public Safety where he collects a $156,000-a-year salary.
The embattled chief attended the closed-door meeting at 2 p.m., sources said, but when reporters on scene asked why he was there, he said, “just visiting.”
Citing state personnel laws, university officials haven’t released details on the inquiry headed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation or unrelated allegations against the chief of fraud, harassment and delivering several questionable and alarming class lectures.
In taped classroom lectures, which were picked up by Denver media outlets after a Collegian report, Yarbrough advised students in a criminal investigations class to provide illicit drugs as payment to informants, to cut corners in police work and condoned the use of excessive force against suspects.
Aaron Gropp, the 38-year-old graduate student and formerLarimer County Sheriff’s Deputy who recorded the lectures, said he’s weighing the possibility of filing a lawsuit against CSU or Yarbrough for the chief’s recent statements to reporters.
“The student that isÂ providing the tapes was not doing very well in my class and has takenÂ my lecture out of context in an attempt to retaliate against me,” Yarbrough said in an e-mail.
Gropp said he plans to talk with an attorney to see if the statement was in violation of The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which bars public schools and its administrators from commenting on or releasing a student’s academic records.
“After everything I’ve been through, I would love to sue CSU at this point,” Gropp said.
Gropp, a former police officer, maintains he did not take the chief’s statements out of context and that when he brought the alarming evidence to CSU administration he was given “the runaround.”
Brad Bohlander, CSU’s top spokesperson confirmed the university investigated Gropp’s complaint and concluded its investigation in the fall but declined further comment because of FERPA. No public action was taken against the chief after the investigation.
“We may decide to give the informant 10 of those (crack cocaine) rocks. OK,” Yarbrough said in one tape.
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 Yarbrough says the tapes have been blown out of proportion.
“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 four years, and I have provided the same information in a dramatic fashion.”
Enterprise Editor J. David McSwane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.