— Quick question. Who’s in charge of the Dillon Police Department?
— Can’t tell you.
— Can you at least tell me why interim police chief Brian Brady recently resigned? Does it have anything to do with a perjury investigation involving a doctored parking ticket?
—Well, hey, that’s a personnel matter. At any rate, Brady’s gone and that investigation has been closed. Move along. There’s nothing to see here.
— One last question, if we may. Is it a coincidence that District Attorney Bruce Brown’s decision to drop the investigation came on the heels of Brady’s resignation? What I’m asking is, did the DA, as part of a gentlemen’s agreement, scuttle a criminal case because Brady agreed to step aside? Just asking.
— That’s none of your business. Prosecutorial discretion, you know. I’m sure you understand.
Why, you might ask, is the SDN having an imaginary conversation with itself? That’s what happens when a newspaper asks legitimate questions of public officials but receives only cold, stubborn silence.
In the Feb. 25 edition of the Summit Daily News, reporter Joe Moylan outlined the disturbing details of a mysteriously abandoned investigation of Brian Brady, the town of Dillon’s top law enforcement officer, who resigned on Feb. 19.
The investigation focused on claims that Brady doctored a parking ticket during an October 2013 trial. If the allegations proved true, Brady’s behavior would have amounted to perjury.
District Attorney Bruce Brown discontinued the investigation immediately following Brady’s resignation. The silver lining to that questionable decision is that it unsealed investigation documents.
It appears the town of Dillon would prefer to keep all of this under wraps. Town manager Joe Wray has declined to comment on the matter and the SDN has been stonewalled in its attempts to obtain documents we believe are public under the Colorado Open Records Act.
Although we now know Brady was placed on administrative leave in January, the town still refuses to acknowledge or discuss that fact. It’s a personnel matter, they say.
Let’s be clear. Disciplinary records, under the Colorado Open Records Act, are generally open to the public. Just putting something in someone’s personnel file does not mean it becomes a top-secret document. The law is clear on that.
However, this isn’t the first time that the town of Dillon has hidden behind the personnel-matter excuse. Like Brady, former police chief Steve Neumeyer was placed on administrative for reasons that are still murky. It appears he was given a large $125,000 severance to resign in June 2013 and drop claims that he was suffering from emotional distress due to the work environment. Brady was appointed to serve as the interim chief while the town looked for Neumeyer’s replacement.
A disturbing pattern of behavior is emerging in which the public is shut out and a patrician form of we-know-best government rules.
Brown fosters this brand of unaccountable government when he says that pursuing an investigation into Brady’s behavior would be a “disservice” to the community. What exactly does he mean? He does little to explain such a puzzling claim.
Is it a disservice to the community to hold law enforcement officers to a high standard? Is it a disservice to the community to maintain the sanctity of our court system?
The allegations against Brady are serious. Doctoring a parking ticket might seem like a small infraction, but it does immeasurable harm to citizens’ expectations of the system’s fairness and impartiality. If a law enforcement officer is allowed to forge evidence to bolster his case, the whole system is thrown into question.
Why the DA’s office is choosing to drop this case is unclear. Brown indicates it might come down to finances.
“We don’t have the resources to pursue every single criminal act,” Brown said. “In light of a myriad of considerations we have to look at with every case, I decided to use discretion to determine the most appropriate outcome. This case is no different than any other case I would consider.”
Except that it is.
Good government depends on the trust of its citizenry. Because of the outrageous lack of transparency shown in this case, the town of Dillon and the DA’s office are sending the message that one standard applies to public officials and another to John Q. Parking Ticket. The Summit Daily News believes that is unacceptable.