DENVER - One of the officers selected for a newly created Fugitive Apprehension Unit is the officer who failed to track down Evan Ebel, the parolee who removed his tracking monitor and killed two people in March.
An email, which was provided to CALL7 Investigator Theresa Marchetta by a source within the department, names that officer and eight others who were selected from a pool of 21 candidates.
Steve Hager, warden for the Colorado Division of Parole, writes in the email that the new unit was created with funding approved by the Joint Budget Committee and that a supervisor was selected previously. The unit's responsibilities began on Thursday, August 1.
"The FAU officers will work as a team, statewide, to assist and collaborate with local parole offices and law enforcement agencies in Fugitive Apprehension efforts," Hager wrote in his email. "It is expected that the numbers of fugitive/absconders will be reduced over time, due to increased apprehension efforts, and by sending a clear message to offenders that we will place a priority on apprehending them should they contemplate fleeing from parole supervision."
Hager's message also explains the cases previously assigned to the new members of the FAU are being transitioned to "newly hired" officers.
In deference to their safety, 7NEWS is not naming any of the officers involved in this new unit, including the officer who was assigned to Ebel.
Ebel was designated a high-risk parolee who was supposed to be under intense supervision. Even before being named to the FAU, Marchetta reported exclusively that his parole officer was a member of two special units: the gang unit and the special response unit.
Marchetta's CALL7 Investigations were the first to expose that Ebel's parole officer worked half days and took the weekend off during the five days after Ebel's ankle monitor triggered a tamper alert. During that time, Ebel killed Nate Leon for the uniform he wore as a part-time pizza delivery driver. Later, Ebel used the uniform in the murder of Department of Corrections chief Tom Clements.
Marchetta asked the DOC how the department justifies their decision to promote the officer who didn't track Ebel down at the first sign of trouble.
Spokeswoman Sue Cobb sent us this response:
"While we don't discuss specific personnel selections, we can tell you we are developing clearly defined policies and procedures that will govern the activities of the fugitive unit. Every member of the unit will be held accountable for following them."
In the past, the DOC has said the officer did nothing wrong in the Ebel case because protocols for tracking absconders were never clearly defined. After our reports exposed the gap in response time, the DOC amended its policy, requiring officers respond to tamper alerts within 2 hours.