Frisco police accused of being ‘too aggressive’
SUMMIT COUNTY – Frisco officials hope an internal investigation, an independent third-party investigation by Vail Police Department and a review by the district attorney will help them get to the bottom of an incident involving an innocent family, four law enforcement agencies and a stolen vehicle.
On the evening of Feb. 9, an auto thief stole a pickup truck from a Frisco driveway and abandoned the vehicle in Lee and Mary Pat Cropper’s driveway, unbeknownst to the family. Two Frisco police officers, as well as officers from Dillon, Silverthorne and Colorado State Patrol, arrived at the Croppers’ home shortly after to investigate.According to accounts by the Croppers and Frisco Police, officers questioned the couple and their son, 14-year-old Quinn, and cleared them of any connection with the stolen vehicle.But the Croppers have accused police of acting unnecessarily aggressively during the investigation, during which Lee and Quinn Cropper found themselves lying face-down as police patted them down and tried to determine whether they were suspects.According to a Friday press release issued jointly by the towns of Dillon, Silverthorne and Frisco, “All the agencies involved have committed to implementing the necessary changes to prevent these types of situations from happening in the future.”Frisco Police Chief Tom Wickman, who has apologized to the Croppers, would not say Friday whether the statement in the press release implied that his officers had in fact acted inappropriately or violated any protocol.The Frisco Police Department has completed an internal affairs investigation, but the report is not available to the public. Wickman has outsourced its investigation to the Vail Police Department for review and recommendations. Thus far, Vail Police have interviewed the Croppers and Frisco Police, but have not yet issued a report.The chief will also have the incident reviewed by the district attorney’s office and the Frisco Police Citizens Advisory Committee. According to Wickman, the town can’t release any further information until the inquiry is complete.Mary Pat Cropper, although angry that the incident occurred in the first place, said she is pleased with how the three towns and their police chiefs are handling the situation now.”We’re just watching and waiting now,” she said.Given the pending investigation, she declined to comment on discrepancies between her family’s account of the incident and Frisco Police Officer Michael Sineni’s account of what happened.Frisco town manager Michael Penny said he hopes the investigations will be complete by March 22, and that the town will be able to review the results with the Croppers shortly thereafter.Silverthorne Police Chief Kent Donahue said his internal investigation is nearly finished.”We have a fairly complete understanding of what transpired during this situation,” Donahue said.The Frisco Police Department is also evaluating its internal training and communication procedures. According to Wickman, communication and search-and-seizure training will be enhanced in the near future for all Frisco officers.Julie Sutor can be reached at jsutor@CMNM.org.Vail, Colorado