Lying Officers First To Lose Police Certifications Under New Colorado Law

December 11, 2020
Denver South High School Pasrking Lot Police TapeDenver South High School Pasrking Lot Police TapeHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Police tape in the parking lot of Denver’s South High School on March 29, 2020.

Six police officers who lied on the job had their certifications stripped by state officials on Friday — a first under a new state law that passed last year.

None of the officers showed up at the Police Officers Standards and Training board meeting before members cast their votes to decertify them as peace officers.

“This is historic in that we have not had prior decertifications for untruthfulness,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. “This is an important effort.”

Officers are usually fired from their respective law enforcement agency if they’re found to have lied in court or amid a criminal investigation -- but there was nothing to stop them from finding another job at a law enforcement agency in Colorado.

Once decertified, though, they are not licensed to work as police officers in Colorado. 

The 2019 law is among a handful of efforts by the state legislature in recent years to hold police officers more accountable -- and to prevent ones who have been fired from finding positions elsewhere.  Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed a sweeping police accountability bill that puts more restrictions on how officers can use force, among other things.

Previously, POST board members could only revoke officer certifications when they were convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony.

The Colorado officers who were decertified on Friday for untruthfulness are:

  • Christopher Goble, Lone Tree PD, made an untruthful statement or knowingly omitted a fact during an internal affairs investigation.
  • Richard Jones, Pueblo PD, made an untruthful statement while under oath. Jones was fired by the Pueblo police department on Jan. 3, 2020.
  • Christopher Tonge, Bayfield Marshal’s Office, made an untruthful statement or knowingly omitted a material fact during an administrative investigation. Tonge was fired Jan. 19, 2020.
  • Russell Smith, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, made an untruthful statement or knowingly omitted a material fact on an official criminal justice record. He was fired Feb. 21, 2020.
  • Jeremy Gay, Delta PD, made an untruthful statement or knowingly omitted a material fact on an official statement on a criminal justice record. He was fired April 2, 2020.
  • Lara Dreiling, Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, made an untruthful statement concerning a material fact or knowingly omitted a material fact on an official criminal justice record and during an internal affairs investigation. She was fired on Nov. 20, 2019.

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