Authorities Defend Choice To Hire Man Accused Of Police Brutaility
Authorities at the Albany County Sheriff’s Department stand by their decision to hire a deputy who was previously terminated from another department after allegations of police brutality.
Sheriff’s Deputy Derek Colling was hired at the Albany County Sheriff’s Office approximately three years ago, according to Albany County Sheriff Dave O’Malley. Colling was terminated from his previous position at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in December of 2011, eight months after a confrontation in which Colling was accused of beating a videographer after he refused to turn off his video camera. Much of the confrontation was caught on tape (see below).
Colling was officially terminated for violation of several Metropolitan Police Department rules. The exact rules violated were not released, according to an article published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Sheriff O’Malley and Undersheriff Robert DeBree both say they stand by the decision to hire Colling, who graduated from Laramie Senior High School in 1999.
“I have never regretted the moment of making that decision because he has been an exemplary deputy for us,” says Sheriff O’Malley.
Sheriff O’Malley notes that he did not recognize Colling’s name from the incident when he originally applied for the Sheriff’s Office. While he was fully aware of the history at the time he chose to hire Colling, it was not a name that jumped out at him on the application. Instead, Colling applied for the position and subsequently tested for an open position in the Albany County Detention Center. Out of those who applied, Colling received the highest score on the written test, first on the physical assessment, and was the lead candidate following a panel interview consisting of personnel from three separate agencies and a civilian member.
“It was an easy decision to make based on the Derek Colling that we had seen here,” says O’Malley.
Undersheriff DeBree says that between twenty and thirty references were contacted in reference to Colling, and he came highly recommended from peers and supervisors alike.
I have never regretted the moment of making that decision because he has been an exemplary deputy for us.
“The fact that he was terminated didn’t give me any real pause because they didn’t move to decertify him as a law enforcement officer,” says Sheriff O’Malley. “All law enforcement officers in the United States are certified through what they call POST, Peace Officer Standard and Training Commission, and if you don’t believe that a person has any business in law enforcement, then you move for decertification. If they had done that, I couldn’t have considered Derek.”
After about one year of working in the Detention Center, Colling was moved to the position of Patrol Deputy, again testing at the top of his group. Colling attended the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy, graduating on March 7, 2013. He graduated first in his class, becoming the only person to sweep the awards for Top Shooter, Top Physical Fitness, Top Academic, and Honor Graduate.
Despite Colling’s apparent exemplary performance on all his evaluations, many in the community have expressed concern about Colling’s employment in Albany County.
“My concern in general is hiring officers who have been essentially dismissed from their previous jobs for acts of brutality,” says Meg Quillen with Wyoming Cop Block, which was recently founded in Laramie.
In addition to safety concerns, Quillen points out that Colling’s actions in Las Vegas resulted in that department paying $100,000 to Mitchell Crooks, the videographer who said he was beaten by Colling for videotaping police. That, says Quillen, could be a costly mistake if a similar incident happened in Albany County.
Quillen adds that even though she is a part of Cop Block, that does not mean she is against all law enforcement. Having an uncle in law enforcement in Fremont County, she sees it as important to keep the bad officers out of Wyoming.
“I’m not against all cops, I just want cops who do wrong held accountable,” says Quillen.
She says many people have expressed their concerns about Colling, and some have even considered protesting his employment.
Even with the concerns, O’Malley says that Colling’s approximate three year employment in Albany County has been unblemished. O’Malley says there has never been a formal complaint filed against Colling, and he has never fired his weapon in the line of duty in Albany County.
Both Sheriff O’Malley and Undersheriff DeBree say they support Colling and the decision to hire him.
Below is the video that went viral showing the confrontation between Colling and Crooks.