Ouray police chief fired after multiple complaints as stepson faces sexual assault charges

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Downtown Ouray, Colorado, in summer.

Updated on June 24, 2024, at 4:37 p.m.

The city of Ouray fired its police chief Monday. A letter from the city detailed numerous concerns including an alleged sexual assault in the chief’s home; complaints over the handling of certain cases; comments the chief made calling the Black Lives Matter movement a “terrorist organization” and a lewd window decal displayed on the back window of the chief’s Ford F-150 pickup truck.

The city announced the termination of Jeffrey Wood on Monday. Wood has been on paid administrative leave for months after his stepson was alleged to have sexually assaulted a 17-year-old in the chief’s home – he was a minor at the time of the incident. In the letter to the chief released by the city, Silas Clark, city administrator, outlines a bill of particulars that led up to the chief’s dismissal.

“I have considered all the information, including what you provided at the meeting. After considering all the facts and information before me, I have determined that you engaged in poor work performance, violations of state law and other actions inappropriate for the Chief of Police,” the letter reads. 

In addition to the sexual assault case, the letter points to complaints filed over the handling of a case involving inappropriate photos being taken of young children; an accusation of excessive force and a 22-year-old woman who said she was made to feel uncomfortable by the chief on two different occasions. The letter also outlines an inappropriate truck window decal that showed two stick figures engaged in sexual acts while three other stick figures watched. 

“Not only is this graphic in poor taste and not conduct becoming of the Chief of Police, given the allegations involving your stepson and the type of activity at issue in those allegations, it is offensive. There is no legitimate reason for such a graphic to be on your vehicle and it constitutes a violation of the law enforcement code of ethics contained in the 2016 Ouray Police Department Policy Manual,” Clarke’s letter reads.

An outside investigation found five sustained complaints against Wood, including not wearing a body camera when required to do so, the unprofessional comments to a 22-year-old resident, poor supervision of a criminal investigation as well as the comments calling the Black Lives Matter movement a “terrorist organization,” which were made in regards to Wood disagreeing with a sign posted in a local coffee shop. 

The investigation was reported to the chief earlier this month, according to Clarke’s letter. After a Notice of Completed Disciplinary Action was filed on June 7, Clarke says the chief met with city leadership to discuss the claims, wherein Clarke writes that Wood was defensive. 

Clarke added that residents of Ouray had expressed concerns regarding the chief. 

“Recently, people have spoken to me about your behavior and concerns surrounding you, but due to fear of retaliation, they were unwilling to provide formal complaints. From what I could tell, if you had not placed members of the public in fear of reporting, the City may have received more complaints which needed investigation,” the letter reads. 

This story is developing and will be updated.