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Fort Collins DUI officer resigns day before police chief can fire him after unjustified arrests investigation

Posted at 10:37 PM, Dec 02, 2022

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A Fort Collins DUI police officer resigned one day before the police chief planned to fire him following an internal investigation into unjustified arrests made by the officer.

Fort Collins Police Chief Jeff Swoboda announced on social media that Jason Haferman's resignation took effect Friday.

"In the end, really just lost confidence in his ability to continue doing a job as a Fort Collins Police Service officer," Swoboda told Denver7 in an interview Friday.

An internal investigation into Haferman's performance found that in less than a year, nine DUI cases involving Haferman resulted in no drugs or alcohol found in the arrestees' systems, following a toxicology report.

Internal Affairs began investigating in April. In May, Haferman's assignment was changed to patrol. In September, Haferman was reassigned to administrative work. In October, he was placed on leave amid the investigation.

In a statement, Fort Collins Police spokesperson Kate Kimble said the investigation revealed a "pattern of performance that did not meet the training and standards we require for all officers."

The investigation revealed a pattern of performance that did not meet the training and standards we require for all officers. This included infractions like submission of inaccurate or incomplete written reports and documents, failure to take DUI field notes, and poor decision-making at multiple stages in the DUI investigation process, all of which negatively impacted cases, impaired our effectiveness as an agency, violated the public’s trust, and damaged community confidence in FCPS. Specific policy numbers and corresponding investigative findings will be in the IA investigative report. The internal affairs investigation did not identify any malintent. It did reveal a pattern of poor performance in terms of administrative responsibilities, procedural consistency, and adherence to the standards of operation that we train and expect from officers.

According to a report published by The Coloradoan, Kimble told the paper Haferman was the primary arresting officer or a supporting unit in 191 DUI arrests last year.

Haferman's body camera footage shows him responding to a single vehicle traffic collision in April involving a car that lost control and veered into an embankment in Fort Collins. The body cam shows Haferman performing several eye tests during a field sobriety exam on Derick Groves, where Haferman decides Groves is "under arrest for driving under the influence."

Groves pleaded with Haferman several times, stating he is sober. During one interaction, Groves said, "I promise you, when all the results come back on this, you guys are going to see. I promise you."

Groves made good on that promise. His toxicology report, which was obtained by Denver7, shows Groves did not have any alcohol or drugs in his system at the time of the arrest. A court dismissed his case.

"I stayed cool, stayed humble and told him again. I said, 'You're making the biggest mistake. There's gonna be repercussions for this after I get an attorney,'" Groves said. "I guess Christmas came early. Got to see the person that falsely arrested me get off the force."

Groves is represented by Matthew Haltzman, who told Denver7 he will bring a federal case against Fort Collins Police Services and Haferman.

"(It's a) too little too late situation, where we have someone who's trying to cover for a problem within their department," Haltzman said, referring to Swobado's announcement Friday.

"He was thrown in a jail cell, he was deprived of his right to liberty and then he was maliciously prosecuted. So there are fundamental constitutional rights that were absolutely violated, and we intend to prosecute that case under federal law," Haltzman said.

According to Swobado, the investigation into the Haferman's actions has now elevated to other departments in the station, examining the entire process of how so many of Haferman's cases received stamps of approval.