The resignation of Manitou Springs’ police chief remains clouded in secrecy after city officials refused to release details regarding his departure and denied The Gazette’s request for related public records.
After he was placed on paid administrative leave late January, chief Brian Churchill resigned March 23 during an executive session of city council. A city spokesman has declined to comment further calling his departure a “confidential personnel matter.”
The city denied The Gazette’s request for internal affairs investigation documents about Churchill under the Colorado Open Records Act, arguing that the release of such documents would be contrary to the public’s interest.
In a letter explaining their decision to withhold the documents, the city clerk said “disclosure of such records could have the effect of discouraging confidential employee complaints” and that privacy interests of others other than Churchill “will be impacted” if documents were released.
The city said because its investigation files do not concern "a specific, identifiable incident of alleged misconduct involving a member of the public," it is not required to release the documents.
The city also said Churchill didn't turn in a resignation letter.
The city clerk said Churchill resigned in person during an executive session of City Council. A Gazette reporter who attended the meeting, however, said the former chief’s departure was discussed in a closed portion of the meeting.
Churchill, who became Manitou Springs’ police chief in October 2019, was placed on administrative leave in late January. He was offered a $105,000 annual salary and a $7,000 one-time sign on bonus, according to his September 2019 offer letter.
Prior to coming to Manitou Springs, Churchill worked for nearly 25 years with the Indianapolis Police Department, according to the city website.
Bill Otto, a detective with the department, is serving as the acting police chief until further note, city spokesman Alex Trefry said. Details on the city’s plan to replace Churchill were not immediately available.
Gazette reporter Breeanna Jent contributed to this story.