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'A Bit Frustrating At Times': Loveland Mayor And Former Karen Garner Family Attorney React To Investigation Into Police Department

LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – A lengthy investigation into the Loveland Police Department has been completed by a third-party company, and the results of the months-long survey resulted in points of both praise and concern for those operating the department. While praising the department for several policies, including the renewed priority of properly handling mental health calls, the report also suggested that the department had problems with topics like transparency.

Loveland Police generic
(credit: CBS)

"This is an overall department report. I think it is an in-depth report. It is a bit frustrating at times," said Jacki Marsh, Mayor of Loveland.

The investigation, completed by Jensen Hughes, came after community protests and lawsuits filed against the department. The controversial arrest of Karen Garner, a woman living with dementia who was accused of trying to steal from Walmart, sparked much of the public criticism of the department and Chief Robert Ticer.

Marsh said, of the points raised about issues within the department, she noticed several members of the community as well as officers suggesting the department needed more leadership within. Marsh said she couldn't help but to notice several officers reported they couldn't prioritize community policing while also trying to meet standards set for daily traffic stops and citations.

"It is a great road map of where we go from here. We can't change the past. How do we move forward?" Marsh told CBS4's Dillon Thomas.

Sarah Schielke, the lawyer who formerly represented the Garner family, said she applauded the report's several recommendations it suggested for the department.

"I think there are good recommendations in this report," Schielke said.

However, she said she was greatly concerned to read the portion of the nearly 6-page report that suggested the sanctity of human life isn't prioritized within the department at all times.

karen garner arrest in loveland
(credit: The Life & Liberty Law Office)

"They need more training on valuing the sanctity of life. That should be a terrifying wake-up call to everyone in his community," Schielke said.

Schielke, an outspoken critic of Chief Ticer, has called for his resignation for years. She has accused the chief of creating a systemically flawed department.

Even though her clients received a record-breaking multi-million dollar settlement in connection to the arrest of Garner, Schielke has not relented on her desire for Ticer to resign.

In a previous interview with CBS Denver, Ticer said he would not resign. Ticer rejected an offer from Schielke to buy his resignation by offering to donate tens of thousands of dollars to charity in return.

Ticer said the actions of the officers involved in the Garner arrest, Daria Jalali and Austin Hopp, were both criminal and inexcusable. He publicly supported the prosecution of both officers and ordered his department to undergo further training on interacting with people experiencing dementia.

He also contracted further with a mental health response agency which often times either assists officers with calls or handles them completely alone.

Mayor Marsh told CBS4 she was also concerned to see the report found a flaw in the department's prioritization of preserving sanctity of life at times.

"It was shocking to see that because public safety, respect, listening to citizens and the ultimate sanctity of life, I would think all of us in public service that should be our priority," Marsh said.

However, Marsh stopped short of backing some calls for Ticer to resign. She accused the problems within the department of being systemic, yet still controllable and fixable.

karen garner arrest in loveland
(credit: The Life & Liberty Law Office)

"I don't think it is as simple as removing an individual. This is more systemic," Marsh said. "There is a lot of work to be done here. There is a lot of work to improve. That is what our citizens are expecting, that is what we need to give them."

Marsh said the Loveland City Council has made the lengthy findings of the months-long investigation a top priority. She said the council plans on making the report their only discussion point at next Tuesday's council meeting. Public comment will not be welcomed.

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