Canon City Plans Survey About Police Department

By: KKTV Email
By: KKTV Email

Following the resignation of their police chief and questions about personnel issues within his department, Canon City is planning a community survey to gauge the community’s feelings about the department.

Chief Duane McNeill submitted his resignation on May 17, almost a full month after he was put on paid leave in response to a management audit that uncovered management and morale concerns in the police department.

Canon City Administrator Doug Dotson told the city council that plans are being developed to improve the department’s training, professional development, performance evaluations, internal communication and communication with the community. A community policing survey is also being planned to help the city council and city administration understand citizen impressions of the department’s performance.

When 11News first reported the audit on April 11, city officials said they requested the audit after questions arose about personnel and morale issues within the department. The audit was completed over four days by a consultant with the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police.

The city said the purpose of the audit was not to evaluate personnel or their fitness to hold any position within the Canon City Police Department. Instead, the assessment was to show various ways to improve leadership, management, and overall daily administration by developing a “roadmap for success.”

Thirty-nine out of 50 employees who work at the department were interviewed during the audit. The majority showed an overwhelmingly negative response toward the police administration, specifically the police chief. The report showed that out of the 38 interviewed in person, plus the two who wrote letters, only six of them agreed with the management style of the department.

Some of the major concerns of employees include:

-Lack of trust, communication and teamwork
-Disjointed training programs
-High agency turnover rate
-Discrimination by the police chief instead of empowerment
-Alienated allied local agencies including the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office.

Some employees even went as far to say the department was a depressing place to work.

Other common criticisms included:

-No movement, plans, or goals for the department
-High turnover agency from a once low turnover agency
-No longer family oriented, no social events
-No motivation or formal department awards event
-Very low morale, depressing place to work
-Too many internal affairs investigations
-Retaliation against officers who litigate against the Chief
-Police department staff is very fearful of police administration

There were negative feelings towards elimination of certain programs or lack of programs:

-Elimination of Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
-Very disjointed training program (allegations that training was actually suspended due to a staffing shortage)
-No emergency vehicle operation course training
-No arrest control training for several years
-Irregular firearms training

The report did reveal some positive comments about the police chief:

-Chief holds employees accountable
-Chief treats everyone fairly
-Chief does a good job and is personable
-Chief is very passionate and this is sometimes confused with anger
-Chief leads from the front
-Chief is hard working, communicative, sincere, and wants to make changes

City officials say the chief will stay on paid leave until they can further review and analyze the results of the management audit. McNeill has been with the department since December 2009.

Some comments showed that there was a “pack mentality against the chief” and that a “group of five to 10 officers are a cancer in the Police Department” who are creating the problems.

Some of the reported negative comments about McNeill included:

-Created a “fearful environment”
-Chief alienated allied local agencies (Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, CSP, Florence PD)
-Writes hundreds of tickets for extremely minor offenses (riding bicycle on sidewalk, throwing cigarettes out of car, loud music, etc.)
-Works too much traffic in a manner not to support officers but show them up
-Engages in questionable search and seizure tactics
-Is unfair-conducts targeted internal affairs investigations against certain officers
-Does not empower sergeants to be supervisors-too much oversight
-Discriminates again light duty officers-treats them badly
-Engages in retaliation against officers he doesn’t like
-Condescending toward women both in the department and in enforcement contacts

The auditor concluded there were 15 issues affecting the police department. Some of the major issues include:

-Perception by majority that chief of police is ineffective (mainly due to perception of poor communication techniques, unfair/outdate internal affairs policies and poor/non-existent training program
-A lack of written direction for the police department from the City Council and City Manager’s officer to include a list of annual written goals
-A lack of positive formal celebration in the department
-Drastic reduction in department programs

The auditor believes the situation is salvageable but will take effort from the City Council, chief of police and officers.

He offered several suggestions including:

-Chief attend professional development programs
-Realigning the organization of the department
-Formalize positive department events in an effort to raise morale
-Develop an annual department training plan
-Take full advantage of free training

Auditor Paul Schultz finished his report by offering positive encouragement: “Officers need to be open minded to the fact that organizations can improve and perceptions can change. This will take effort on everyone’s part and constant positive reinforcement from the police administration that mistakes of the past will not be repeated-the goal is to work together for a better department and a better community.”

In a press release city officials released this statement:

“City Administration fully supports the efforts of the Police Department and its personnel. The City Council and Administration, through this action, are striving to resolve management and personnel issues and restore morale in the department. It is not know how long it will take to complete the investigation, but City officials are working to initiate the review within days.”

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Reed Location: Cañon on Apr 12, 2012 at 06:53 PM
    I'd rather deal with the sheriff's office than Cañon PD. the SO has always been professional & courteous and solve their cases quickly. The PD is rude and lazy period. Sounds to me like Cheryl's the crook who didn't get her way with the SO, no one I've talked knows anything about the stuff she claims!
    • reply
      by Billy on Apr 12, 2012 at 08:48 PM in reply to Reed
      Thanks DAVE.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 12, 2012 at 03:47 PM
    It's such a great place you list yourself as annonymous? A warm place where parents provide the alchohol and drugs for their minor children and friends. A community where a wonderful police chief who believes in following ALL laws and that ALL people should be obeying those laws (not just people that aren't your family and friends) is believed to be running a "gestapo" agency. Amazing.
  • by sounds familiar on Apr 12, 2012 at 09:50 AM
    The Pueblo Chieftain reported retaliation, favoritism, and extremely low moral, is this canon city or the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office? Why cant an audit be done on Taylor and his admin staff???
    • reply
      by Yup on Apr 12, 2012 at 11:21 AM in reply to sounds familiar
      How many veteran officers have been fired by Heir Taylor for having an opinion? Nepotism, favoritism, out and out illegal activities by his family and close circle of friends. The list is endless. Honest employees are at his majesty's mercy. When is the investigation? Work at the will of the sheriff - what a horrid joke.
  • by kris Location: cripple creek,co on Apr 12, 2012 at 08:59 AM
    Glad the officers came forward. I know its not easy when you fear for your job or retaliation. now we need teller county sheriffs to be investigated for corruption with the citizens and the chief of cripple creek needs to also be investigated she is 5x worse then this canyon city chief.
  • by Resident Location: Pueblo County on Apr 12, 2012 at 08:57 AM
    Audit the Pueblo County Sheriff next. Now that would make for some interesting reporting.
  • by Cinnamon on Apr 11, 2012 at 09:54 PM
    I hope the TRUTH comes out for the sake of the majority of those officers who knew something was wrong and decided to speak up. I'm praying for you guys.
  • by anonymous Location: Canon City on Apr 11, 2012 at 09:41 PM
    Canon city is a great place to live in. It is a warm and caring community with many great citizens. The problems with our chief are real and not imagined. This individual is at the very least a loose cannon and reminds me of the mentality of the gestapo in Germany of the late thirties and early forties. We don't need him or his way of abusing officers and citizens in our community. Canon City is a place that I invite all of you to visit, as we are very proud of many of the wonderful things going on here. When we rid ourselves of this police chief it will be the best community in Colorado!
  • by Cheryl Location: Left Canon Due to Corruption on Apr 11, 2012 at 09:38 PM
    The Sheriff and Florence PD don't like him? GREAT!! They are both filled with crooks and the sheriff's wife pled to a pyramid scheme (one that lots of florence pd wives were also involved in and lots of sherrif's wives). One sherrif officer was allowed to "retired" and be charged with a misdemeanor assult instead of the rape he actually committed during one of his wife's pyramid "dinner parties". The florence PD decided that when my 7 year old granddaughters father scrubbed the skin off the back of he neck (down on the back where the neck and spin meet) that she must have been coached to say dad did it (in the 5 min that it took for mom to pick her up, call me, and go straight to the PD) when Dad and his then girlfriend both said she did it to herself. Corruption in Fremont County is rampant. Would be nice if an outside source actually did the investigation. Maybe someone from the Attorney Generals office?
  • by Anonymous Location: Colorado Springs on Apr 11, 2012 at 08:14 PM
    Wow! Sounds like the Chief was running the whole place by himself. Sounds like he needs some Captains and Lieutenants to help with the show. Why are police filing lawsuits on each other down their? That is insane. You guys in Canon City need a big group huge! Give the Chief some credit. He was obviously trying to run the whole place by himself because he probably loved you.
  • by doll steak on Apr 11, 2012 at 07:59 PM
    What's up with that place? There's this gustapo umbrella over Canon city(prison,big brother give) and at the same time pueblo is down the road. Nice terrain minus the primates.
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