Opinion: The urgent need for transparency and reform in Estes Park Police Department

Estes Park Trail-Gazette: Recent revelations about the Estes Park Police Department’s (EPPD) handling of Internal Affairs (IA) records have brought to light significant issues that demand urgent attention and action. The findings from a recent audit, particularly those concerning former Captain Eric Rose, paint a troubling picture of systemic failures in record management and potential misconduct that cannot be ignored.

The audit, conducted by retired Police Chief Luke Hecker, disclosed that the EPPD had been following an informal, unwritten practice of destroying substantiated IA records ten years after a complaint was filed. This practice directly conflicted with the formal policy requiring such records to be retained for ten years post-separation of the employee involved. Between 1990 and 2018, 18 substantiated IA files were prematurely destroyed, violating town and state retention policies.

Eric Rose, who served as the IA records custodian from 2008 until his death in 2021, is central to these findings. Rose frequently accessed the evidence room without proper logging, a clear breach of department protocols. He destroyed 16 IA files during his tenure, often without documenting his entries and exits.

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