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Prosecutor finds "serious lapses, failures" by Federal Heights Police Department to investigate felony cases

Years of felony cases were never investigated in Federal Heights
Years of felony cases were never investigated in Federal Heights 02:25

Responding to a CBS News Colorado Investigation, the Adams County District Attorney said Thursday it uncovered "serious lapses and failures in the investigation of felony cases conducted by the Federal Heights Police Department" over the last three years after the department's interim police chief asked in April for a review of his department's cases. 

The DA's office said, "the interim Police Chief requested this because of concerns related to his department's backlog of serious felony cases."

That Interim Chief, Mike Domenighini, was reportedly demoted and recently resigned from the Federal Heights Police Department, although it's unclear if any of those moves are related to the case backlog.

Contacted by CBS News Colorado, Domenighini declined to comment.

The district attorney's office said it found failures to investigate cases dating to 2020, 2021, and 2022. 

"We have communicated these concerns to the department and the leadership in the City of Federal Heights", wrote the DA's office.

RELATED: Years of Colorado felony cases were never investigated in Federal Heights


Federal Heights city manager Jacquie Halburnt said her city hired a consultant in 2022 to mentor the interim police chief. 

"That consultant let me know there was a backlog in April 2022 and they would address it with weekly review meetings, mandatory OT, and advertising for a part-time investigator to help."

It's unclear what happened between April 2022 and when the DA was asked to step in back in April of 2023. 

Halburnt said when she was notified in April 2022 of the backlog, "it was my understanding that action was being taken to address it at that time." 

She said she did not have specifics on how many cases languished and were not investigated.

Halburnt was not available for an interview but said another consultant was hired a week ago to provide advice on overall staffing levels at the police department. 

"Due to the seriousness of the matter, we also made arrangements to hire a retired major crimes supervisor from a large metropolitan police department. He's been hired to specifically look at backlogs, work flow and case load," wrote Halburnt.

Note: Following the publication of this story, Halburnt shared the following statement: Police staff had an initial meeting with our consultants, one of whom is a retired major crimes supervisor from a large metropolitan police department.  The first priority is to focus on the cases in the D.A.'s report.  As they go case by case, they will make an effort to reach out to the victims, with the help of our Victim Advocates.

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