WOODLAND PARK, Colo. — Did three Woodland Park city council members receive any preferential treatment when officers were dispatched to a "disturbance call" at Cavalier Park in Woodland Park last month? It's a question resident Michael Dalton raised following a series of events he says he witnessed.
It was election night on April 5, 2022. Dalton says there was a party with alcohol at the park across from his house.
That night, another neighbor called police to report a disturbance. Police responded, but News 5 learned there was no report taken, no tickets written and officers apparently did not activate their body-worn cameras.
Officers have discretion on calls they respond to and not every call leads to an arrest or citation. However, an internal affairs investigation is open because it appears the officers violated policy by not activating their cameras.
"I just had a caller who lives on Fairview saying there’s some people at Cavalier park who are arguing pretty loud and it has been going on for a while," a Woodland Park dispatcher can be heard saying over a radio transmission feed.
Police were dispatched around 10:30 p.m. When officers arrived, there were several people at the park including Mayor Hilary LaBarre, Mayor Pro Tem Kellie Case and Councilwoman Catherine Nakai.
Resident Michael Dalton admits he was there too. Although he's not a public official, he is known around town as the "Dad with Phone" because he is always recording video for his social media channels.
He says everyone was celebrating the election results at the park after hours before the party was cut short.
“I see a Woodland Park police officer pull up to the stop sign,” Dalton said. “I know immediately it’s a Woodland Park police officer. I say it out loud and everyone turns and looks. We all had glasses of whiskey.”
According to Dalton, everyone dumped their booze out, but there was no investigation into that. For all we know, everyone at the park could have been drinking non-alcoholic beverages.
“At least one cop gets out of their car and walks up and tells us that he had a disturbance call in the park,” Dalton said.
Dalton says the group apologized and he even joked with police about busting city officials. The reference is captured on a recording Dalton says he took on his cell phone.
“You (the officers) will be able to tell the story that you busted Kellie Case, Catherine Nakai and Mayor Hilary LaBarre,” Dalton can be heard saying.
A few seconds later, you hear an officer respond.
“The story is everyone was gone when we got here.”
Dalton’s 37-second clip doesn’t capture the “before” and “after” officers arrived so in our fair and balanced coverage, News 5 Investigates requested a copy of the case report and any body-worn camera video for our research.
“No body worn camera (video) is available,” Woodland Park police stated via email. “No report or narrative was taken.”
According to the department’s own recording policy, the recorder “should be activated for all enforcement and investigative contacts including stops and field interviews.”
You can read the entire department camera/recording policy here.
News 5 asked for clarification on why there was no body camera video available.
“It does not appear that the officers turned on their body worn camera,” the Woodland Park police records supervisor stated. “There is an open Internal Affairs Investigation on this incident and due to it being open, I cannot comment further on it.”
Dalton says he questions whether there would have been video recordings or a report taken if this call for service did not involve elected city officials.
“Had I been sitting out there with anyone else, those officers would not be walking away without taking my ID and asking questions,” Dalton said. “How can reports not be taken? How can no names be taken? How can you not verify there were no minors here? How can you verify that no major crimes happened? There cannot be a double standard for our public officials and our citizens.”
News 5 did confirm that officers ran plates in the parking lot during the call.
As of May 2, the Internal Affairs investigation remains open. Once completed, News 5 will request a copy of the outcome.
News 5 also reached out to all three city officials involved in this incident.
Labarre was the only one who responded.
She sent us this statement:
A few Council members went to Cavalier Park after celebrating their election victory. Council member Case wanted to thank Michael Dalton, her “friend” and constituent for his support. Mr. Dalton had not been invited to the election party. He asked Councilwoman Case to meet him at the park instead of his house which is directly adjacent to the park. Other council members and friends accompanied Council member Case because the “friend”, Michael Dalton is notorious for causing problems with city council and our community. (Hence, this email). When we arrived to the park Council member Case and Michael Dalton cheered, laughed, and we were all interacting positively. Very soon after we arrived, two squad cars pulled into the Park parking lot. One Officer stepped out of his car and told us that he had received a noise complaint and that we needed to leave. We apologized to the Officer, and all of us proceeded to our vehicles immediately and literally left the parking lot following behind the officer. There is a city ordinance that states that the parks are closed from dusk to dawn. There is no fine or ticket for violating the ordinance, the police just ask you to leave the premises. A ticket or arrest could be involved should a party be caught doing illegal activities or resisting the Officers. But there is no further action prescribed should someone be at a park after hours and if asked to leave, they do so. The dusk to dawn ordinance was just enacted last year, prior to that there were no official park hours in our community. I am not privy to, nor can I comment on the Internal Affairs investigation, for that you will have to speak with the police department.
Update (May 4, 2022):
After our interview with Dalton, we learned police submitted an arrest warrant against Dalton for "attempting to influence a public servant."
The affidavit contains redactions from the courts, but we did want to make this document available to our viewers in full transparency.
He has an advisement hearing on the charge May 16.