Fort Collins City Council votes to release police chief recruitment records after lawsuit

Fort Collins Coloradoan: The Fort Collins City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to release some records related to the city’s police chief recruitment process after a lawsuit from conservative group Judicial Watch.

The group “uses the open records or freedom of information laws and other tools to investigate and uncover misconduct by government officials and litigation to hold to account politicians and public officials who engage in corrupt activities,” according to its website.

In April, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the city of Fort Collins and City Manager Darin Atteberry over the city withholding records about its police chief search.

The council vote to release some of those records came after Judicial Watch filed a motion in Larimer County District Court on May 17 to dismiss the lawsuit. City Attorney Carrie Daggett told council members on Tuesday that it was dismissed because of a 14-day period that allows for negotiations regarding potential release of the records.

Judicial Watch alleged in a September blog post that one of the Fort Collins police chief candidates was removed from consideration because of statements he made about immigration, though the city refutes the claim.

Shortly after the blog post, Fort Collins terminated its contract with the recruitment firm Andersen and Associates and restarted the police chief recruitment process with another firm because of what city officials called a “communication mishap.”

Judicial Watch requested documents related to the search through an open records request in September but was denied many of those records in resulting communications with the city. That led to the April lawsuit.

Some of the records Judicial Watch requested from the city included communication from May 2017 to October 2017 between immigration attorney Kim Baker Medina, local immigrant rights group Fuerza Latina, Fort Collins Chief Sustainability Officer Jackie Kozak-Thiel, the city manager’s office, Fort Collins Police Services, the Northern Colorado Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3 and Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.

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