Three more complaints filed in Boulder’s police watchdog selection process

A still image, taken from video footage of a Jan. 19 council meeting, was used as evidence in a complaint against uniformed Boulder Police officers who protested the appointment of members on a group meant to oversee cases of police misconduct.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Third, fourth and fifth complaints have been filed over efforts to seat new member’s of Boulder’s police watchdog group, a fraught process that drew protests, sparked calls for reform, and put a spotlight on police oversight in the city.

Recommendations for appointees to the Police Oversight Panel were made in December. City council twice delayed the vote after concerns from police and their supporters and the first official complaint, filed by John Neslage against the selection committee.

Nominees were seated via a 6-3 vote January 26. That same night, a second complaint was filed by Zayd Atkinson, the Black man whose encounter by armed police in 2019 led to the creation of the POP.

Since then, three more complaints have been filed by Boulder residents — two against members of city council, and one against uniformed police officers who publicly opposed the appointments city council meeting.

On January 30, Emily Reynolds filed two complaints against Boulder city council members for their votes. The first names the six council members who approved the new panelists — Junie Joseph, Rachel Friend, Nicole Speer, Lauren Folkerts, Aaron Brockett and Matt Benjamin — accusing them of not meeting legal requirements of their posts by approving a panelist with “real or perceived bias, prejudice or conflict of interest,” a key point in deliberations about the appointments.

“Council Members chose to ignore the legal precedents established by these existing laws as well as the existing guidance regarding judicial disqualification/recusal and dismissal of prospective jurors for cause,” Reynolds complaint states, “choosing instead to base their decisions to approve the nominees on information that was neither germane to the decision nor consistent with the enabling Ordinance.”

Read the Reynolds complaints here and here

Reynolds also alleged that unnamed council members “have personal relationships with one or more nominees and/or have direct or family relationships with one or more of the local organizations serving on the Selection Committee.” As such, she wrote, recusal may have been appropriate.

Her second complaint is against councilwoman Joseph, for opposing appointment of outside counsel to investigate Neslage’s complaint. Council is required by city code to investigate the complaint; Joseph was the only dissenting voice in an 8-1 vote that appointed Claybourne Douglas. On Feb. 2, council directed Douglas to handle Atkinson’s complaint and “any future Police Oversight Panel-related grievances,” the Daily Camera reported.

On Tuesday, February 7, a fifth complaint was filed by Jane Hummer against unnamed, armed and uniformed officers of the Boulder Police Department who “engaged in an inappropriate show of force at a meeting of the Boulder city council on January 19, 2023, in an effort to intimidate the city council and the community members present.”

At that meeting, Daniel Bergh spoke on behalf of the police union, opposing the POP appointees for their alleged anti-police views. While he spoke, more than a dozen officers and union members stood up in council chambers.

Most were dressed as civilians, but at least three officers appeared in uniform, which includes visible weapons. Hummer’s complaint alleges this was an “clear-cut violation” of BPD policies against wearing uniforms while off-duty, using their position for personal advantage and to “endorse, support, oppose or contradict … a social issue or cause.”

Read the Hummer complaint

“It felt very inappropriately intimidating, to have police officers stand silently with guns and tasers in support of speaker who was trying to reduce oversight of police” Hummer said in an interview. “They’re certainly welcome to share their opinions as private individuals, but their conduct while in uniform reflects the whole city, not just them as an individual.

“Their opinions are important. I just don’t believe they should be breaking city regulations to express themselves.”

The officers are referred to as John Doe #1 and #2 and Jane Doe #1. They are shown in still images taken from video of the council meeting, which Hummer watched from home. Their identities are not known by Hummer; she is requesting that they be named as part of the investigation. 

I’m not on a vendetta against these particular officers,” Hummer said. “I would maybe like a public clarification about the police officer’s involvement in this situation (or) some sort of reprimand” if department policy was violated.

Part of the POP’s responsibility is to investigate complaints against police officers accused of violating department rules. It is unclear at this time if they will review this allegation, or if it will be handled by Douglas; this article will be updated as more information becomes available.

Conduct complaints against city council, staff or members of boards and commissions are rare. City Attorney Theresa Tate called the first official complaint filed in the POP process “unprecedented.” Mayor Aaron Brockett tweeted that it was “the first complaint that we’ve gotten in my 7+ years on council.”

Hummer acknowledged that there are “a lot of code of conduct complaints flying around,” but insisted her complaint deserved to be considered on its own merit.

“My complaint is central to the broader topic: the need for police oversight,” she said. “If these other complaints were worthy of being investigated, surely this one is.”

Hummer last year filed a campaign finance complaint against a city council candidate, that was ultimately upheld. She is a politically active citizen with multiple affiliations, including on the Better Boulder board of directors.

(Disclosure: That includes a spot on Boulder Beat’s Opinion Panel. Hummer has no involvement with news operations or decisions at Boulder Beat, and no involvement with this article other than being interviewed.)

Reynolds is a frequent speaker at city council meetings, typically on the topics of crime and homelessness, and an organizer with Think Boulder. She declined comment for this story.

— Shay Castle, @shayshinecastle or on Mastodon at

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