July 6, 2011
The former head of the Colorado Springs Police Department will be sticking around Pueblo a while longer.
Luis Velez was named Pueblo’s police chief Wednesday after serving as interim chief since February, said Ray Aguilera, president of the Pueblo City Council. He said city officials didn’t consider anyone else for the post.
“We felt that he showed the kind of leadership that we were looking for in terms of some of the problems that we had here in Pueblo,” Aguilera said.
On Feb. 16, Velez replaced James W. Billings Jr., who retired.
Within two months, Velez was tasked with overhauling the force when a report by a consulting firm criticized the department for a lack of leadership and poor morale, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. The report also said many in the department harbored a perception of favoritism, and sick days had been improperly used, the newspaper reported.
His appointment comes nearly five years after he resigned from the same post in Colorado Springs following the revelation that more than 20,000 pieces of evidence in nearly 10,000 cases had been improperly disposed. During the scandal, Velez faced a no-confidence vote by his officers.
Pete Tomitsch, president of the Colorado Springs Police Protective Association, said he was glad Velez received a second opportunity in Pueblo.
“He served Colorado Springs for many years and we wish him well down there,” Tomitsch said. “Just because he wasn’t a good fit for our department at that time… doesn’t mean he isn’t going to be a good fit for Pueblo.”
Aguilera said the abrupt end to Velez’s last job didn’t factor into the decision to hire him in Pueblo.
“I think that was just a little error in judgment maybe on his part, that maybe he hired a guy who didn’t have the breadth and experience that he needed to do the job,” said Aguilera, of the evidence disposal scandal. “But in terms of his integrity and his honesty, we think he’s the right guy.”
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