June 23, 2011
A Colorado Springs police officer accused of lying to her colleagues will continue to be paid despite the filing of felony charges against her this week.
Officials with the Colorado Springs Police Department have decided to keep Sydney Huffman on paid administrative leave rather than suspend her without pay after she was charged Wednesday with six counts of trying to influence a public servant, a class 4 felony, according to Sgt. Darrin Abbink, police spokesman.
The decision comes roughly a month after the paycheck of another recently-jailed officer, Joshua Carrier, was pulled the day prosecutors charged him with numerous charges of sexually assaulting children.
Abbink said the difference lies in the agencies responsible for each investigation.
“The types of allegations and the type of proof that exists in each of these cases are… different,” Abbink said.
Felony charges must be filed against an officer before any paychecks can be withheld, according to the city’s Civil Service Commission code.
Carrier’s case, which arose after police said they found child pornography in his bedroom, was investigated by the Police Department. That allowed investigators to complete the internal affairs investigation — which determines pay status — as well as his criminal investigation, Abbink said.
When prosecutors charged him criminally, Abbink said the internal affairs investigation had enough evidence to take away his paycheck.
But that isn’t the case with Huffman, Abbink said.
Huffman faces investigations by two agencies — an internal inquiry by the Police Department and a criminal one by the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Huffman is suspected of lying to fellow Colorado Springs police officers by telling them she was abused by Jarrott Martinez, her then-boyfriend. Martinez was fired by the Manitou Springs Police Department when the second of several allegations surfaced. He has since been cleared of all charges.
Abbink said that not all evidence has been shared between the two agencies, and investigators are completing Huffman’s internal inquiry.
“If we put her on suspension without pay right now, we basically put ourselves on the clock,” said Abbink, referring to a policy that states officers are allowed a termination hearing within “a reasonable time” of paychecks being suspended.
The department tries to handle such matters in about 10 days, Abbink said.
“It’s something where we’ve got to have all of our ducks in a row,” Abbink said.
Call the writer at 476-1654.