Lt. Col. Scott Hernandez named interim chief of Colorado State Patrol

DENVER - An interim chief has been named at the Colorado State Patrol after the agency's former head decided to retire months before his contract was due to expire.

James Davis, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, says Lt. Col. Scott Hernandez will run the State Patrol until a permanent chief is hired.

Hernandez began his career with the Colorado Port of Entry as an officer in April 1987 before joining the Colorado State Patrol in January 1991.

James Wolfinbarger, who held the position for about four years, retired at the end of January, telling his staff he wanted to pursue new challenges in his professional life. His contract was due to expire June 30.

In fact, Wolfinbarger was paid $90,000 after being asked to retire, but details of the payout aren’t being released by the state.

The CALL7 Investigators asked for a copy of the agreement between James Wolfinbarger and the state through an open records request. It shows the agreement was reached on January 11 and that both sides agreed not to talk about the early termination of Wolfinbarger’s contract or admit any wrongdoing.

Several sources close to the Colorado Department of Public safety told the CALL7 Investigators the state hired a third party company to conduct an investigation into the culture of the state patrol. The investigation began in September and ended in January of this year.

The investigative report and findings were not being released by the state patrol or the Colorado Department of Public Safety, but an unnamed source told CALL7 that the four-month long investigation eventually found no wrongdoing by Wolfinbarger or others in the state patrol.

Despite the findings, sources told CALL7 Investigators that the head of public safety and the Governor’s office felt there was need for change within the state patrol leadership and asked Wolfinbarger to retire.