For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

Rob Douglas: Chief Caterinicchio acted unprofessionally

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Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Douglas here.

— Last week, this column questioned whether Oak Creek Police Chief Russ Caterinicchio is qualified to conclude that "nothing inappropriate" occurred during the arrest and tasing of former Oak Creek Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman and whether he has the appropriate temperament for his job.

This week, while examining Oak Creek's Taser policy, I got a full dose of the chief's temperament.

You would think it should be easy to learn if the Oak Creek police should have sought a medical evaluation of Ms. Rodeman after tasing her by reviewing the Oak Creek Police Department Policies & Procedures Manual. But while the answer is easy, Chief Caterinicchio has a way of needlessly complicating matters.

The current Taser policy was written by former Police Chief Linda Koile, with an effective date of May 10, 2006. The policy states: "It will be Oak Creek Police Department's policy to activate E.M.S. [Emergency Medical Services] upon deploying the Taser to check the individual that was Tased and or transport if necessary."

That policy was modified and enacted by the Oak Creek Town Board on Oct.12, 2006, as recorded in the board's minutes "with the stipulated changes, i.e., no use on passive resisters and that the police commissioners will be notified as soon as practicable when a Taser is deployed and that the tased party will be transported to the hospital in Steamboat Springs."

It is clear the Oak Creek police, in keeping with the approved Taser policy, should have sought a medical evaluation of Ms. Rodeman.

Unfortunately, the fact is the police did not "activate E.M.S." or have Ms. Rodeman "transported to the hospital in Steamboat Springs." It was not until Ms. Rodeman requested medical treatment hours later that she received medical attention.

Given the policy and the board's stipulations, Chief Caterinicchio's statement that "nothing inappropriate" occurred is more in doubt than ever.

Now to the chief's temperament.

While researching the Taser policy, I learned a document titled "Oak Creek Police Department Standard Operating Procedure Taser X26/M26," dated Jan. 1, 2008, was faxed by Chief Caterinicchio to the Steamboat Pilot & Today in response to a request for "a copy of OCPD's current Taser policy."

The document differs from the May 10, 2006, Taser policy discussed above and, until I showed it to them, had never been seen by Oak Creek Mayor J. Elliott or police commissioners Wisecup and Ege.

To complicate matters further, I discovered a third document also effective Jan. 1 titled "Oak Creek Police Department Policy and Procedures Manual 6-005 Use of Less Than Lethal Conducted Energy Weapons Systems." That document was in a draft of new policies and procedures under review by the Oak Creek police commissioners.

In an attempt to clarify which document the chief considered in force, I met with him Wednesday. Within moments, the chief became agitated when he saw the Jan. 1 draft copy of his recommended Taser policy and, unbeknownst to me at that moment, removed the document from a stapled compilation of documents in my possession.

A minute or two later, as the chief declined to answer any further questions and left the room, I realized he had a document in his hand. I quickly determined he had removed the draft policy. I located the chief in his office and demanded he return the document he had "stolen." He stated that I wasn't authorized to have the document. I again demanded he return the document. He then claimed to have destroyed it and ordered me out of his office perhaps not aware of the invention of photocopiers and the possibility I had made other copies.

If Chief Caterinicchio truly felt I had a document I was not entitled to, he should have discussed it like a professional. The chief's behavior is appalling and lends credence to the ever-multiplying complaints and reports about his confrontational demeanor with the community that signs his paycheck.

If this is how the chief acts with someone just trying to make sense of the chief's administrative decisions, I shudder at the thought of how he will react if ever confronted with a true crisis calling for clear thinking at a time of peril.

Comments

nmypinon 6 years, 4 months ago

Rob, you missed it last night after you left, he wanted the board members to start taking drug tests. Of course he was denied.

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misterkindbuds 6 years, 4 months ago

What a hack. First off, Lone Tree hardly needs a police force (I know, I have a house there) and for a reserve officer from here to be hired as chief is just poor planning.

Drug tests for elected officials - interesting.

Perhaps the board should suggest monthly psychological evaluations for the chief.

In Oak Creek, outside of speeding and domestic complaints, there is really no need for a police presence.

If someone gets smashed at the CO Bar and has to drive 3 blocks home at 25 mph at 2 a.m., in reality, what's the worst that can happen?

They drive into someone's front yard?

Just as an afterthought, I was talking with a Lone Tree officer one day, and he told me the biggest complaint they get ........................... dealing with trouble that starts in the drive-thru at Starbucks.

No kidding ... I swear.

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Scott Wedel 6 years, 4 months ago

At the Town Board meeting, pillar of the local community Jack Romick stood up and was still agitated that when Jack was driving his tractor down an alley that Code Enforcement Officer Tony had told him that he was lucky the Chief didn't see him doing that. Jack said that 1961 Colorado law states that what he was doing was legal. He then turned to Chief Russ and said "I am not afraid of that man".

It is as if the OCPD has a list of "Things NOT to do" and is trying to see how many of them can be accomplished. High on that list would be "Tick off Jack Romick".

Anyone with any common sense would not threaten Jack Romick with a ticket for driving his tractor in town. He has earned a lifetime of respect and if any officer thinks there is anything unsafe about him driving his tractor then they should escort or otherwise help him to make it safer. That would be protecting and serving which have unfortunately become foreign concepts to the OCPD.

And the OCPD can also add stealing documents from a columnist to the list of things done on their "Things NOT to do list".

And it is sadly no joke that OCPD has a double secret Taser policy. It is literally true that there are two secret Jan 1, 2008 Taser policies and that the Chief thinks one of them is current policy, not the 2006 one discussed in public and approved by the Town Board.

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Scott Wedel 6 years, 4 months ago

So we have two further allegations worth investigating: 1) Chief Russ sent a fabricated Taser policy with a false date to the newspaper claiming it was the current OCPD Taser policy. (The real Jan 1, 2008 proposed Taser policy had been given to the police commissioners to review). 2) Chief Russ stole documents from a reporter and destroyed them.

Why is this Chief still on duty? A police chief fabricating documents and destroying other documents is completely unacceptable. Chief Russ needs to credibly explain himself or resign.

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Scott Wedel 6 years, 4 months ago

The Jan 1 Taser policy sent by the Chief to the SB Pilot did not preserve the protections of the 2006 policy passed by the Town Board which is the official Taser policy until another is approved by the Town Board.

The Taser policy sent by the Chief to the SB Pilot removed the protections in the official Taser policy and thus coincidentally was not violated by Officer Foster when he Tasered Cargo. Officer Foster clearly appears to have violated the official Taser policy by not seeking a medical check for Cargo at the scene (medical check happened hours later in SB) and arguably violated it by using it in response to passive resistance ("cowering and falling away").

So it appears that the Chief fabricated a document he claimed to be the OCPD Taser policy to cover up violations of the actual OCPD Taser policy by Officer Foster.

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Duke_bets 6 years, 3 months ago

LTFO - There's truly no point in defending Russ. He blew the 'benefit of the doubt' argument long ago.

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Scott Wedel 6 years, 3 months ago

If it was given to him by commissioner Ege then I say "Thank you Mr Ege".

Under no circumstances are proposed changes to the OCPD official procedures confidential. The procedures cannot take effect until they are debated and approved by the Town Board. There is a huge difference between secrets that the police chief would like others to keep and secrets that others are obligated to keep. If the Chief of Police wants to make up a Taser policy and send it to the SB Pilot, claiming it is the current OCPD Taser Policy then Mr Ege is under no obligation to lie to cover up the Police Chief's act of deception. If, in fact, Mr Ege had documentation showing that the Police Chief's sending of a false Taser policy cannot be excused as an honest mistake, but was truly an act of deception then THANK YOU Mr EGE for giving it to the press to let others be aware of the police chief's act of deception.

The police commissioners are supposed to respect ongoing investigations and not release confidential information regarding the investigation. Proposed OCPD procedures are not confidential information. If the police chief is so naive to think that nonconfidential documents given to police commissioners would be kept secret even if they reveal an attempt to deceive the press then the police chief should not interact with anyone beyond kindergarten.

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Scott Wedel 6 years, 3 months ago

How did Mr Ege violate any code of ethics? He was given something by the police chief that was to be discussed in public and possibly adopted as the Town's new Taser policy by the Town Board in a public meeting. That is not secret or confidential.

And "discovered" is not a very specific description of how Mr Douglas got the document. Maybe Mr Ege said that the police chief had proposed a new Taser policy and he might have accidentally faxed that instead of the current Taser policy. And when Mr Ege and Mr Douglas compared documents, they discovered they were not the same.

And if you want to quibble about the article using a word or two instead of being more description and accurate then think about "declined to answer any further questions and left the room" which is an extremely sanitized description of the police chief's actual actions.

And you consider an elected official not covering up for a police chief's attempt to deceive the press and the public "reprehensible" and a reporter's attempt in a limited numbers of words to stay reasonably close to the truth also to be "reprehensible" and you say nothing about a POLICE CHIEF ATTEMPTING TO DECEIVE THE PRESS AND PUBLIC? That should be enough to be immediately fired. Every defense attorney is going to take every case from OC to trial because first thing they can do is show the police chief is a blatant liar.

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Duke_bets 6 years, 3 months ago

LTFO - Do you really want to get into 'ethics' when it comes to the OCPD? You mention acting professionally and telling the truth. Your statements make sense if you replace the word Douglas with Russ.

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Duke_bets 6 years, 3 months ago

LTFO / KH - Still waiting for your rebuttle.................You do realize that the opinion you state is in the vast minority?

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Duke_bets 6 years, 3 months ago

LTFO - You should probably change your sign in again............That statement gives you away.

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innovated 6 years, 3 months ago

LTFO: interesting you would shift the focus towards Mr. Douglas and attempt tainting of what the real problem is. Obviously, you haven't checked out Mr. Douglas' credentials. He plainly just did his job. He is indeed a fine journalist and a former private investigator in Washington, D.C. I believe it is reprehensible that a 'chief' of a police department would attempt to replace and send a new taser policy to the Steamboat Pilot, and admittedly not seen by the two police commissioners, just to cover his a$$. Now, that is audacity.

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Scott Wedel 6 years, 3 months ago

Even if Mr Douglas was a rookie with no credentials then how do you explain and justify the Chief of Police a) not sending the current OCPD Taser policy which was the one approved by the Town Board in 2006. b) sending one dated Jan 1, 2008 that neither police commissioner had seen before c) having another Taser policy dated Jan 1, 2008 that had been given to the police commissioners as the proposed new OCPD Taser policy so that it could be approved by the Town Board.

Are those facts in dispute? The Chief's defenders only dispute that the second Jan 1, 2008 Taser policy should not have been given to a reporter. I have not heard any one suggest that the reporter or a police commissioner fabricated any of these documents. And it is truly laughable to argue that something to be discussed in a public meeting by the Town Board is secret or confidential until there is a meeting with that item specifically on the agenda.

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