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City, Police Department Call The Feds For Help

By Rick Sallinger

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4) - This time it is the police calling for help.

Commerce City, a town of 50,000 residents, is now receiving a comprehensive assessment of its police department through a U.S. Department of Justice Program. It is called COPS, which stands for Community Oriented Policing Services. It comes at the city's request after numerous problems, including officer misconduct.

It was last year when it looked like a Commerce City police officer had been shot by a motorist. It turned out former officer, Kevin Lord, was convicted of making up the whole story.

Kevin Lord
Kevin Lord (credit: Adams County)

Another officer, Pedro Malave, resigned after thousands of sexting messages and pictures were found sent from his departmental phone.

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Commerce City Police Officer Pedro Malave (credit: CBS)

Former officer John Reinhart was been charged with unlawful sexual contact.

john reinhart
John Reinhart (credit: Commerce City Police)

Now the city has acted.

Rene Bullock is Commerce City's mayor pro tempore. He spoke at a news conference on Wednesday.

"We heard from our community, and they weren't happy, and a few of these incidents, they were embarrassed for Commerce City," Bullock said.

Rene Bullock
Commerce City Mayor Pro Tempore Rene Bullock on Wednesday (credit: CBS)

At the city and police department's own request, the U.S. Department of Justice is stepping in.

"Today the residents and visitors of Commerce City should feel very optimistic and they should feel very proud," Bob Troyer, acting U.S. Attorney for Colorado, said at the news conference.

Bob Troyer
Bob Troyer, acting U.S. Attorney for Colorado, on Wednesday (credit: CBS)

Lowell Richardson is the interim chief of the Commerce City Police Department which has just over 100 people in its ranks.

"We're willing to bring in some outside experts to provide some solid recommendations about what we can do so that we can be a better organization," he told CBS4.

Lowell Richardson
Lowell Richardson, interim chief of the Commerce City Police Department , is interviewed by CBS4's Rick Sallinger (credit: CBS)

For police chief Troy Smith was earlier moved to non-police job. The Fraternal Order of Police had given him a vote of no confidence and a survey found morale low.

"There were a lot of officers that were looking to go other places … if they had the opportunity they would take a job someplace else," said Tom Boskovich, President of the FOP chapter.

Tom Boskovich
Tom Boskovich, President of the FOP chapter, is interviewed by CBS4's Rick Sallinger (credit: CBS)

In a very different type of incident, Commerce City policeman Scott Green was fired and sued after filing open records requests about other officers. He claims his constitutional rights were violated.

Scott Green1
Scott Green (credit: CBS)

The Department of Justice program will issue its first recommendations in a few months, and then stay on to monitor implementation and issue other reports to be made public.

CBS4's Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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