Berthoud police chief, officer suspended in probe; Larimer County sheriff's sgt. named interim chief

Source: Probe of officer's off-duty conduct

BERTHOUD, Colo. - A criminal investigation has led to the suspension of Berthoud Police Chief Glenn Johnson and one of his officers, authorities said.

In a statement released Monday night, the Town of Berthoud said: "The Larimer County District Attorney and the Loveland Police Department have both advised Town officials of the existence of a criminal investigation of two police officers, but no charges have been filed and no details have been released to the Town."

7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger has learned that Loveland police investigators searched Chief Johnson's office last week. The chief's computer was among items searched for evidence, a source told Zelinger.

The source tells 7NEWS investigators are trying to find out what the chief knew about accusations of off-duty misconduct by a Berthoud officer. The chief and that officer have been placed on administrative leave.

Meanwhile, the town statement says, "The Larimer County Sheriff's Office has, at the request of Town staff, agreed to supply an interim police chief and direct police operations until the Town is able to ascertain the nature and foundation of the allegations and investigation being conducted with respect to two Berthoud Police officers."

Sheriff's office spokesman John Schulz told 7NEWS that sheriff's Sgt. John Feyen was appointed interim Berthoud police chief last week.

The town department normally has seven police officers, including the chief.

"Police services and protection will not be impacted, and the Town can expect no change in the time or quality of the services received," the town statement said.

The Berthoud Board of Trustees will consider adoption of a formal interim agreement with the sheriff's office at a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"Under these circumstances, it is appropriate to bring the [Police] Department under outside supervision in order to avoid any appearance of impropriety," the town said. "Equally important, the interim Chief loaned from the Sheriff's Department will not be distracted from the performance of police obligations by an investigation in which he would be in any way involved."

The latest statement by town officials comes as residents complain that they've been kept in the dark about what's going on inside the police department.

Berthoud officials issued a cryptic news release on the town website last Friday:

"In the last several days the Town of Berthoud has received numerous inquiries regarding allegations made against several of its police officers. The Town has not substantiated any of the allegations, and the police officers of the Town, like other citizens, are presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

"However, in order to instill confidence in the citizens of the Town, and to ensure that the police department is fully capable of serving and protecting Town members, the officers against whom the allegations have been made have been placed on temporary administrative leave.

"In the interim, the Town has engaged the services of an independent agency to conduct an internal investigation and to assist the Berthoud police department in their day-to-day operations. While the investigation is pending the Town is not able to provide any further details, or to comment further."

Berthoud Mayor Pro-Tem Jan Dowker said she has been advised to say, "No comment" earlier Monday when 7NEWS asked what was happening at the police department.

Zelinger asked if there is a concern about whether the police agency can protect public safety?

"If you call police, someone would answer, wouldn't they?" the mayor pro-tem replied.