City Abruptly Eliminates Police Chief Finalist for Supporting Immigration Enforcement

A highly qualified and respected veteran law enforcement official with impressive credentials was precipitously eliminated as a finalist to be police chief in a U.S. city after officials discovered he endorsed immigration enforcement. Judicial Watch is investigating and has filed a public records request to obtain details about the troublesome case in which the support for the rule of law served as a disqualifier for a candidate hired to enforce the rule of law. It also marks yet another example nationwide of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness and the negative impact illegal immigration is having on taxpayers.

The unbelievable story involves the northern Colorado city of Ft. Collins’ search for a new police chief. Steve Henry, a former chief deputy for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) in central Arizona applied for the position. The 55-year-old law enforcement veteran spent nearly two decades at PCSO, an agency with a $39 million budget that patrols a county the size of Connecticut. Henry is a U.S. Army veteran who obtained his undergraduate degree at Arizona State University and graduate degree at Northern Arizona University. He also holds a degree from the Harvard JFK School of Government and attended the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy. He has 23 years of continuous and stellar law enforcement service.

Henry was among 65 applicants for the Ft. Collins police chief job and was recently notified that he was one of six finalists. He was invited to travel to Ft. Collins to interview with city officials, specifically the city manager, who oversees the police chief. Henry’s offer was abruptly rescinded, according to a source closely involved with the selection process, because he publicly supported an Arizona law (SB1070) that makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. without proper documentation and bans “sanctuary city” policies. The measure also allows local law enforcement officers throughout the state to inquire about suspects’ immigration status. “Three of the top six candidates were dumped for a public stance on one issue or another,” Judicial Watch’s source said. “Political correctness is destroying America when a city government does not want a chief who supports the rule of law.” Judicial Watch reached out to Ft. Collins City Manager Darin Atteberry for comment but an assistant named Rachel left Judicial Watch a voice message saying Atteberry had “back-to-back meetings” for days and would not be available. Judicial Watch also sent Atteberry questions via electronic mail to his official city address ( but he did not return them.

A California-based company called Ralph Anderson and Associates that provides cities, counties and state agencies with executive search and consulting services is handling the search for Ft. Collins police chief. The city hired the firm after its police chief resigned in May following a series of scandals, including the use of excessive force in several instances and a $425,000 settlement to two officers who claimed the department discriminated against them based on their race. The Ft. Collins Police Department has 327 employees, 213 of them sworn officers and an annual budget of $46.5 million. Nestled against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Ft. Collins is the state’s fourth largest city with a population of about 157,000. It’s home to Colorado State University, the state’s flagship public college, and local government supports offering illegal immigrants sanctuary. Ft. Collins Mayor Wade Troxell said in a local newspaper report that the city is an open, inclusive and friendly community and that “all people matter.” Members of the city council have consistently said they support diversity and want the city to be a welcoming place for all people.

Henry was informed by a Ralph Anderson and Associates official that he was eliminated as a candidate after the discovery of two news stories in which Henry was quoted supporting Arizona’s immigration control measure, SB1070. The Anderson and Associates official said the articles made Atteberry, the Ft. Collins city manager, leery about hiring Henry because, among other things, the city is a university town. With the city refusing to explain what happened, the chain of events indicates that a highly qualified candidate got eliminated from the final six police chief applicants due to his support for the rule of law. There was no crime, misconduct or character flaw on his part, just support in his capacity at Pinal County for Arizona’s commitment to assist federal law enforcement in an effort to secure borders and implement federal trespassing statutes. As for the Ft. Collins public officials, it never looks good when they dodge the hard questions involving questionable decisions.

7 replies
  1. Ray Martinez
    Ray Martinez says:

    Unfortunately this story has its facts wrong. Even the writer appears to be a little Lazy by just cutting and pasting what was written in Judicial Watch. It’s a classic example of fake news.

  2. Ray Martinez
    Ray Martinez says:

    As a member of the Republican party I find this article falling in step with how Democrats react with exaggerated or totally distorted information. A classic example is saying that Fort Collins is a sanctuary City. That’s not true. More fake news.

    • Bill Werst
      Bill Werst says:

      Where did it say Fort Collins was a sanctuary city? There was a quote from Mayor Troxell and the city council. Was that quote inaccurate? Since you are also a former Fort Collins police officer, your expertise and leadership is needed here. As Republicans we believe every one should be treated equally under the law, and we expect our law enforcement officers to faithfully enforce all the laws of Fort Collins and Colorado and the Constitution. That is the only way we ensure the safety of our residents.

  3. ray martinez
    ray martinez says:

    JW already changed their press release wording from not being able to contact Darin Atteberry from “days” to back to back meetings for the day…one small example. Also, we are not a sanctuary city. Also, Anderson did not get that kind of statement from Mr. Atteberry. Whoever the source is or whoever wrote the story sure didn’t look into facts…I spoke first hand with the City Manager, but the story writer did not, and should have if they want an accurate and verified story. This was poor journalism. You as well should have followed-up. There are numerous inaccuracies in the Judicial Watch post regarding Mr. Henry’s candidacy. The City has been working with Ralph Andersen & Associates to fill this position; they have affirmed that the City of Fort Collins in no way indicated a position on immigration policy as part of the evaluation criteria, nor was it a factor in reviewing any of the candidates.

    The recruitment process is ongoing, and the City is eager to find a Chief who brings the necessary knowledge, skills and experience as well as the appropriate attributes required to successfully address the needs of this community and the Police Services. A complete list of finalists is expected toward the end of October.


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