On December 6, 2022, the Boulder Police Department issued a media release which began with the headline, “Internal Audit Discovers Officer Misconduct; Results in Discipline for Five Officers and Policy Changes.” The media release went on to announce:
The Boulder Police Department has concluded an internal investigation process that resulted in a determination of officer misconduct in the Investigations Unit. The city and police department are sharing these findings to be transparent with the community about what occurred and the multiple ways the agency addressed the issue.”
The issue, according to the media release, was discovered in July 2022, when:
department officials became aware of cases assigned to a particular detective that had not been investigated or investigated fully between 2019 and the present."
The police chief, the media release stated:
immediately brought it to the attention of the Professional Standards Unit and the Independent Police Monitor, with allegations of several different rule/policy violations made against five officers: the detective and four others within his chain of command. A subsequent internal Professional Standards Unit investigation sustained the violations against all five officers.”
While the media release did not identify which cases had not been “investigated or fully investigated” two of the five officers who received discipline were Investigations Commanders in charge of the JonBenét Ramsey Homicide Investigation, Commanders Thomas Trujillo and Barry Hartkopp. The media release stated that:
On Nov 1, the following discipline was imposed: Commander Tom Trujillo received an involuntary transfer to another division and a three-day suspension without pay; this officer was also placed on a Performance Improvement Plan. Commander Barry Hartkopp was given a one-year letter of reprimand and is receiving additional training.”
Commander Hartkopp, then a sergeant in the Investigations Unit, represented the Boulder Police Department in a meeting on July 26, 2019, which the Smit Family Team had scheduled with the Boulder District Attorney, Michael Dougherty. Commander Tom Trujillo granted a second meeting with the Smit Family Team, represented by Cindy Smit Marra (Lou Smit’s daughter) and me, which was held in the Boulder Police Department on September 18, 2020. DA Michael Dougherty also attended that meeting.
The purpose for both of those meetings was to update Boulder law enforcement officials on the progress being made with our team’s independent DNA collection efforts and share information on other persons of interest who should be pursued and items of physical evidence which should be reevaluated for DNA comparison. Our team provided investigative leads which should be pursued, identified private DNA labs willing to work with the Boulder police detectives, and we offered to pay for the DNA analysis from our JonBenét Ramsey GoFundMe Account.
After several weeks had passed, I sent an email and called Commander Trujillo’s office, and received no reply. On October 5, 2020, I called Police Chief Maris Harold, to request an in-person meeting, to inform her of what appeared to be an unwillingness to fully investigate the murder of JonBenét Ramsey. That afternoon I received a phone call from Commander Trujillo, who informed me he was returning my phone calls to Chief Harold’s office and his office. He asked if my meeting request was regarding Lou Smit’s “Intruder Theory” and when I replied yes, he informed me that the Boulder Police Department would no longer grant any request for meetings with me or the Smit Family and then reminded me I was retired (a fact of which I was already somewhat aware).
Since Commanders Trujillo and Hartkopp were two of the five officers disciplined for misconduct within the Boulder Investigations Unit, it stands to reason that if they were having difficulty managing their caseload, that there was little interest in following up on the JonBenet Ramsey homicide investigation, now over 25 years old.
The December 6, 2022, media release concluded by assuring the public that in addition to imposing discipline, the department has taken significant steps to address the situation and prevent it from reoccurring. The Police Chief concluded her remarks with, “Our department understands the tremendous responsibility it has to investigate reported crimes diligently and in a timely manner. This is a sacred trust our community has place in us. We take this responsibility seriously.”
The Smit Family Team hopes the words of Chief Harold are not hollow and with the proper investigative oversight in place, progress can finally be made with the JonBenét Ramsey homicide investigation.