From Darkness To Light

12 Jun 2023

Citizen Complaint Review Panel of Durango Police Department meets in secrecy

Posted by Adam Howell


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The Citizen Complaint Review Panel of Durango Police Department meets in secrecy every March to make recommendations about the citizen’s complaints that were already disposed of by city investigators or supervisors.

Citizen Complaint Review PanelPolice Chief Bob Brammer said that the panel reviews complaints that are considered personnel matters.

Deputy Police Chief Brice Current referred to the panel as a ‘committee’ at a Durango Police Department Town Hall meeting that they held at Durango Public Library.

“They look at all of our complaints at the end of the year, in their entirety, and they make any recommendations if they think we performed a good investigation, or an investigation that could use some work, or if it needs to be seen through a different set of eyes,” said Deputy Police Chief Brice Current.

Given the recommendations that the panel makes to the City of Durango Police Chief, it is unclear how the Citizen Complaint Review Panel is not classified as a local public body or committee with a decision-making function.

While the panel is reviewing complaints filed against police that the panel and staff see as confidential personnel matters, the context of those complaints pertain to how the public was treated by public servants.

As the police department is saying that the complaints involve personnel issues, those same complaints that the panel reviews are often matters of public interest.

In general, the committee was comprised of seven people in 2022, as well as the city mayor who’s a liaison with the Community Relations Commission, said Chief Bob Brammer.


Citizen Complaint Review Panel member provides context about his involvement

Durango resident David Kerns was invited by Chief Bob Brammer to join the panel. His invitation came after doing a ride along with Durango Police Department through Leadership La Plata, said Kerns.

Kerns has been on the panel for the past four years, he said.

The panel members receive the documents pertaining to a years worth of complaints on a thumb drive in January. Hours of body camera footage is given to each panel member.

For the year 2022, the panel reviewed 21 complaints, Kerns said.

Every year in March, the panel meets together to discuss the complaints. Following their discussions, the panel chairperson writes a memo with recommendations that the panel reviews for accuracy. The recommendations are then given to Chief Brammer, he said.

The recommendations that the panel makes are not sustaining or exonerating the complaints against any officer. They’re trying to point out an opportunity for something that they may not have not seen, Kerns said.

“It’s not black and white and we’re certainly not ruling on anything,” he said.

“It’s a memo from the Citizen Complaint Review Committee to Bob Brammer with all of our recommendations, or all of our observations,” said Kerns.

With the Durango Police Department having a policy of disposing of citizens complaints within one year of their filing, it is unclear how recommendations of the Citizen Complaint Review Panel that occur over a year later would have any impact on the disposition of the complaint. Specifically, the policy reads as follows:

1020.6.5 COMPLETION OF INVESTIGATIONS
Every investigator or supervisor assigned to investigate a personnel complaint or other alleged
misconduct shall proceed with due diligence in an effort to complete the investigation within one
year from the date of discovery by an individual authorized to initiate an investigation.

A lot of times we don’t understand exactly the behind the scenes police work. Occasionally Deputy Police Chief Brice Current or Sergeant Deck Shaline they will chime in with some context, he said.

Kerns said that the panel meets in City Council Chambers.

“And they’ve got that giant big-screen tv, so it’s pretty nice for us to be able to occasionally. If it’s discussion about one of the complaints we can discuss. But occasionally it’s, you know I saw this happen, and then we’ll be able pull up the actual police footage, the body cam footage, to review it and make sure that what I saw or whoever, that this guy was right and that other people saw it the same way,” said Kerns.

The panel meets at mid-morning during the week.

Kerns would guess that 30% of the complaints involve civil rights concerns.

A complaint could be about how an officer conducted themselves in a traffic infraction, and how the officer spoke to the complainant.

Kerns has never seen any non-member of the public attend a meeting of the panel.

City Councilor Melissa Youssef was at the most recent meeting of the panel. Youssef declined to answer any questions about her work as a liaison for the Citizen Complaint Review Panel. She referred me to Chief Bom Brammer, instead.

Mayor Barbara Noseworthy was at the meeting of the panel in 2022, he said.

The complaints that they reviewed were all over the board. Traffic, cops knocking on doors, mental health.

Before the panel receives the documents about the complaints, they sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement, said Kerns.

“You sign a document talking about secrecy, which makes me think that I need to stay kind of stay out of the details on these specific cases,” said Kerns.

“You’re reviewing body camera footage of people having their worst day of the year, or of their life,” said Kerns. “And we’re in a small community. It’s nothing that you want to take lightly.”

I was honored to be chosen to participate on this. It’s a cool way to serve the community.

“Once it goes off in the memo to Bob Brammer,” said Kerns. “I have not received any feedback back from him, other than perhaps he sends a thank you email.”

“They keep inviting us back, so we must be providing value to them,” Kerns said.

Chief Bob Brammer’s answers to my questions in bold text that I initially asked of City Councilor Melissa Youssef:

How is the Citizen Complaint Review Panel any different from the other advisory boards of the City of Durango that provide recommendations to City officials?  The CCRP was originally implemented and designed by the PD.  It is not an official Board or Commission formed by Council.  The intent of the CCRP is to review all citizen-initiated complaints which reach the level of a formal investigation.  The scope of the Panel is to maintain transparency and integrity of the Internal Affairs process.

How is the Citizen Complaint Review Panel not a “local public body” or a “state public body” since they provide recommendations to Police Chief Bob Brammer after the panel meets to discuss public business at City Council Chambers?  The CCRP is a voluntary panel and not mandated from any governing body or legislative mandate.

Why are the meetings of the Citizen Complaint Review Panel closed to the public?  The reviews discuss personnel issues.

Are the doors to the meetings of the Citizen Complaint Review Panel locked during their meetings in March every year?  In previous years the CCRP met at the PD.  The last two years that venue was changed to the Council chambers since our facility can no longer meet the space needs because of our growth and needs.

How do the meetings of the Citizen Complaint Review Panel not fall within the purview of the Colorado Sunshine Law and C.R.S. 24-6-402?  The CCRP is a voluntary group of invited citizens who participate in discussion of personnel matters.

Are you the City Council liaison of the Citizen Complaint Review Panel?  At the suggestion of the Community Relations Commission a member of the Council was invited as a participant starting in 2021.  The suggested liaison person was recommended to be from the CRC.

What is your role when attending the meetings of the Citizen Complaint  Review Panel?  The Council member will be an active observer of the process.

Citizen Complaint Review Panel recommendations provided in memos every March

CCRP_Letter_3-13-23_Final CCRP_Letter_3-13-22_Final

Specifically, if anyone who has submitted a complaint on any DPD officer wants to talk to me about it, then please email me at athowell@gmail.com
On June 13, 2023, I requested the following record(s) that were mentioned in the aforementioned Citizen Complaint #4 from the year 2022,

“a copy of the written Citizen Complaint and police report pertaining to the incident in 2022 where an officer unplugged a home security camera at a private residence (CC2022-04 ?”

“The officer allegedly unplugged the security camera for officer safety.”

In response, Christi Brennan of Durango Police Department denied my request, and said the following,

“We have reviewed our files and have determined that no public record exist to your request.”

Non-Disclosure Agreements from Citizen Complaint Review Panel provided every year

2023_Non-Disclosures 2022_Non-Disclosures 2021_Non-Disclosures

2020_Non-Disclosures



Current Citizen Complaint Review Panel members:

  • Marissa Hunt, Resource Center Manager for Manna Soup Kitchen. I left her a voicemail on 6/12/23.
  • David Kerns, on the panel since 2019.
  • Erin Hyder, Assistant City Manager, Internal Cultural Services Manager, erin.hyder@durangogov.org, 970-375-5001. I left her a message on 6/12/23.
  • Gail Harris, 970-259-9244 active 970-426-9370 kareng44@aol.com I left her a voicemail on 5/16/23.
  • Retired federal Judge David West. I was unable to contact him.
  • Dwayne Perry, physical trainer. I was unable to contact him.
  • Ben Waddell

Past members of the Citizen Complaint Review Panel

  • Ann Morse, Executive Director of Manna Soup Kitchen, chairperson, (970) 385-5095 ext. 107, director@mannasoupkitchen.com. She refused to answer any questions about her experience on the panel.
  • Melissa Youseff–No longer on the panel. She said someone else from city council would now be on the board. She refused to answer any questions about her experience on the board.
  • Barbara Noseworthy

C.R.S. 24-6-402. Meetings – open to public – legislative declaration – definitions.

(1)(a)(I) “Local public body” means any board, committee, commission, authority, or other advisory, policy-making, rule-making, or formally constituted body of any political subdivision of the state and any public or private entity to which a political subdivision, or an official thereof, has delegated a governmental decision-making function but does not include persons on the administrative staff of the local public body.

(2)(b)All meetings of a quorum or three or more members of any local public body, whichever is fewer, at which any public business is discussed or at which any formal action may be taken are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times.

(4) The members of a local public body subject to this part 4, upon the announcement by the local public body to the public of the topic for discussion in the executive session, including specific citation to this subsection (4) authorizing the body to meet in an executive session and identification of the particular matter to be discussed in as much detail as possible without compromising the purpose for which the executive session is authorized, and the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the quorum present, after such announcement, may hold an executive session only at a regular or special meeting and for the sole purpose of considering any of the following matters; except that no adoption of any proposed policy, position, resolution, rule, regulation, or formal action, except the review, approval, and amendment of the minutes of an executive session recorded pursuant to subsection (2)(d.5)(II) of this section, shall occur at any executive session that is not open to the public:

(4)(f)(I) Personnel matters except if the employee who is the subject of the session has requested an open meeting, or if the personnel matter involves more than one employee, all of the employees have requested an open meeting. With respect to hearings held pursuant to the “Teacher Employment, Compensation, and Dismissal Act of 1990”, article 63 of title 22, C.R.S., the provisions of section 22-63-302 (7)(a), C.R.S., shall govern in lieu of the provisions of this subsection (4).

24-72-204. Allowance or denial of inspection – grounds – procedure – appeal – definitions – repeal.

(3)(a) The custodian shall deny the right of inspection of the following records, unless otherwise provided by law; except that the custodian shall make any of the following records, other than letters of reference concerning employment, licensing, or issuance of permits, available to the person in interest in accordance with this subsection
(II)(A) Personnel files; but such files shall be available to the person in interest and to the duly elected and appointed public officials who supervise such person’s work.

24-72-202. Definitions.

(4.5) “Personnel files” means and includes home addresses, telephone numbers, financial information, a disclosure of an intimate relationship filed in accordance with the policies of the general assembly, other information maintained because of the employer-employee relationship, and other documents specifically exempt from disclosure pursuant to this part 2 or any other provision of law. “Personnel files” includes the specific date of an educator’s absence from work. “Educator” has the same meaning as set forth in section 18-9-313 (1)(b.5). “Personnel files” does not include applications of past or current employees, employment agreements, any amount paid or benefit provided incident to termination of employment, performance ratings, final sabbatical reports required pursuant to section 23-5-123, or any compensation, including expense allowances and benefits, paid to employees by the state, its agencies, institutions, or political subdivisions.

Adam Howell is a writer who believes in free press and the importance of the constitution. He can be reached by clicking on this link to the contact page.


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