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Monument police chief, town manager suspended while complaints investigated

February 8, 2018 Updated: February 9, 2018 at 6:29 am
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Left: Town Manager Chris Lowe Right: Chief of Police Jacob Shirk (via KKTV)

Monument's police chief and town manager have been placed on paid administrative leave while the chief's complaints about the town manager are investigated.

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday to suspend Town Manager Chris Lowe and Police Chief Jacob Shirk for two weeks and authorized the town attorney to investigate allegations against Lowe.

Details about why the two were suspended are murky.

An attorney who said he was representing all but a few of the Police Department's officers and staff members said at Monday's trustee meeting that the employees are "fearful of retaliation" from the city manager, who oversees the chief and the department.

"They're concerned about some of the comments and actions that have been taken by the city manager, and they're not able to do their job," said Colorado Springs attorney Erin Jensen, who specializes in employment law, during the meeting's public comment period.

Shirk had emailed trustees a memo, dated Feb. 1, that raised a personnel issue related to Lowe, Jensen said at the meeting.

Town Clerk Laura Hogan said the town attorney is reviewing The Gazette's request for the memo.

Jensen also requested that the board meet behind closed doors with the officers and staff members to discuss their concerns.

Before voting on the suspensions, the board held an executive session, but the department staff and officers were not invited to participate.

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith has been appointed interim town manager, according to the town clerk. Cmdr. Steve Burk is overseeing police operations during Shirk's suspension.

Shirk, whose department now has 14 sworn officers, has been police chief for 13 years, Burk said. The board appointed Lowe to the town manager position in August 2015. His duties include supervising the town's employees, overseeing day-to-day government operations and preparing the annual budget.

When contacted by The Gazette, Monument Mayor Pro Tem Don Wilson declined to elaborate on the suspensions.

Monument Mayor Jeffrey Kaiser and Jensen, the attorney, did not respond to a phone call and email asking for comment Thursday morning.

Lowe, too, did not respond to a call to his residence asking for comment.

Shirk could not be reached.

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Contact Rachel Riley: 636-0108

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