DENVER – Congressman Jason Crow sent a letter to sheriffs and chiefs of police of jurisdictions within his 6th Congressional District Sunday asking them to investigate whether any of their personnel participated in the storming of the U.S. Capitol last week, a move to which some of the officials said they would not respond.
Crow’s letter, dated Jan. 10 and which was obtained by Denver7 Investigates, asks for the departments and offices to “conduct urgent personnel reviews to identify individuals in their departments that participated in the acts of insurrection on January 6th.”
The Democratic lawmaker was one of the last members of the House to leave last Wednesday and was praised by the Republican Minority Leader for his actions as rioters urged by President Trump and others stormed the Capitol and reached the House chamber’s doors, where they were met by armed police officers.
Crow has repeatedly denounced those people’s actions and has pressed over the past week for answers on who invaded the Capitol and how they were so easily able to do so.
His letter also came after one Metro Police officer told Politico last week that he saw off-duty police officers and members of the military flashing their badges and ID cards as they pushed inside the Capitol.
On Monday, several Capitol Police officers were suspended, and The Washington Post reported that more than a dozen others were under investigation for their suspected involvement in Wednesday’s riot, which killed six people, including two police officers – one of whom died by suicide.
Reuters, The Washington Post and the Seattle Times have also reported on law enforcement officers and firefighters who are under investigation for their involvement in both Wednesday’s initial protest and the attempted insurrection that followed – in which the full group of protesters at the initial rally did not participate.
“In the days following the attack, there have been an increasing number of deeply troubling reports that some of the terrorists may have been individuals serving in positions of public trust, including law enforcement officers,” Crow wrote to the law enforcement officials. “It’s is vital that we ensure the public servants our community relies on for safety and leadership were not involved in the insurrection on January 6th.”
The letter was sent to Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson, Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown, CU Anschutz Police Chief Randy Repola, Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock, Greenwood Village Police Chief Dustin Varney, Adams County Sheriff Richard Reigenborn, Brighton Police Chief Paul Southard, Littleton Police Chief Doug Stephens, and Thornton Police Chief Terrence Gordon.
Spurlock was the only of the group to speak on the record and in person with Denver7 Investigates. He said that while he agrees those involved should face prosecution, he believes Crow unfairly targeted law enforcement officers despite the evidence there were officers from other jurisdictions who were involved while off-duty.
Spurlock added that he would not adhere to Crow’s request and said several of the other chiefs and sheriffs said they would not either.
“Let me just say I was surprised when I read it that a congressman would ask me as another elected official to ask my employees what they were doing on their days off or their vacation,” Spurlock said. “…I think it’s inappropriate to ask those kinds of questions. We will obviously cooperate with law enforcement if we had information. I know all the law enforcement leaders on this page, and I know they’ll cooperate openly and immediately.”
He said he understood where Crow was coming from after the riot and said he believes “that there are some people who need to be held accountable,” but added that he did not feel right asking his employees about their time off.
“I’m being asked to infringe upon my employees’ First Amendment rights of freedom of movement and freedom of speech and their ability to go on vacation, and I don’t think I should do that,” Spurlock said. “I don’t think I’m in a position to do that because I have no evidence to believe any of my employees were involved. But on the other side of that … I do not condone that kind of criminal behavior and I don’t know why any law enforcement officer would.”
Spurlock said he believes that any law enforcement officers who did partake in the storming of the Capitol should be removed from their position and prosecuted. The sheriff said he hoped that if any of his officers were there that they would “turn around and go the other direction.”
Spurlock, a Republican, said that he had spoken to five of the other chiefs or sheriffs on the letter and gotten the same reaction.
“It seems like in some of the words I’ve heard, this seems like a witch hunt. This seems like a target at specific people. I think that’s the wrong way to go about that.”
Spurlock said he’d heard there were four Douglas County residents identified as being at the rally but that he did not have specific information on them, nor had he been asked to provide information or intelligence on them by another agency. He and the others he spoke with agreed they would not be responding to Crow’s letter and quizzing their employees, though Spurlock also acknowledged he had not talked to all of them with respect to the letter.
“I will not do that. That’s inappropriate for me to do. If the FBI comes to me and says, ‘Hey, we think that maybe one of those people…’ I will cooperate 100%, open up my door and allow them to have full access to my office. But it’s like, you cannot start pointing fingers at individuals.”
Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown said in a statement that he had contacted the FBI and will continue to work with federal law enforcement on “any potential criminal activity.” He said he was “not currently aware of any allegations that any law enforcement officers from Colorado were involved in criminal activity in Washington D.C.”
“If allegations of criminal activity on the part of any Arapahoe County deputies during the insurrection are brought to our attention, we will utilize the rule of law and our policies and procedures to investigate the allegations and determine any appropriate charges and employment status if they are found to have engaged in criminal activity,” Sheriff Brown added.
Aurora Police Department spokesperson Officer Matthew Longshore said in a statement that there are no plans at this time to conduct a department-wide review and added that Chief Wilson had “no information or evidence to suggest that any members of the APD were involved in any such acts that day.”
Longshore added that Wilson had also been in communication with the FBI and would be notified if any Aurora police officers were involved or suspected of illegal acts.
“At that point, an investigation would be conducted, and swift action would be taken against the department member if they were found to have violated any department directive, local or federal law,” Longshore said.
Crow said in a new statement Tuesday evening that he was committed to working with local law enforcement moving forward as the investigation continues.
“During these extraordinary times, the mission of our law enforcement officers is more important than ever. We owe a debt of gratitude to those men and women of the US Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies who in the midst of a violent attack defended members, their staff, and our democracy,” Crow said.
“Responding to this terror threat will take partnership at the state, local, and federal level to work with the FBI and hold accountable those who participated in Wednesday’s attack. I am grateful for all those in positions of public trust who are committed to upholding their sacred oath to protect our communities and safeguard our democracy,” the congressman added. “I have spoken to and look forward to working with our district police chiefs and sheriffs in the days and weeks ahead to address the terror threat faced by our country.”