ROCKY FORD, Colo. - The Rocky Ford Police Department hired James Ashby as a police officer even though crime victims in another town where he had worked complained that he was belligerent and had treated them as suspects. Now he's charged with murder.
Mickey Bethel became police chief of Rocky Ford after a former boss described him as "a cancer" on the Pueblo Police Department, where he was fired after a sex video of him and his wife with another man surfaced.
Bethel's son, Justin, patrols the streets of Rocky Ford despite criminal convictions, some of them while a juvenile, for prohibited use of a gun while drunk, careless driving, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving while ability impaired.
Rocky Ford hired Darin Poole, a former mixed martial arts cage fighter who was fired from the Adams County Sheriff's Department after authorities charged him with assaulting an inmate. He also had resigned from the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office amid controversy over his beating of a 63-year-old disabled man after a traffic stop, a beating described in court testimony as a pit bull attacking a dead chicken.
In a state with little regulation over who can and cannot work as a police officer, Rocky Ford is a potent example of the phenomenon authorities call "second-chance officers" — law enforcement personnel who cycle from department to department despite serious blemishes on their records.
Rocky Ford City Manager Ian Kaiser said that since the fatal shooting, the city has put in place new hiring protocols and a new training program for officers.