ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown is the first to admit that running as a Democrat might have helped him beat Republican incumbent David Walcher last November. Arapahoe County has been voting more in favor of Democrats in recent years. Brown says President Donald Trump’s election in 2016 resulted in Democratic success last November.
“I think it had a big impact on all the elections statewide. Ultimately, there’s no other way to look at besides it had a trickle-down through politics,” said Brown.
Former Sheriff Walcher declined to speak on camera with the Problem Solvers, but by phone told FOX31 he’s convinced his 30 years of high-ranking law enforcement experience lost out to a low-ranking, small-town officer simply because most Arapahoe County voters don’t pay close attention to down-ballot races and voted Democrat across the board in 2018.
Something most of those voters probably didn’t know is that Sheriff Brown applied to be a deputy with Arapahoe County in 2013, but was rejected. Walcher wasn’t the Sheriff at that time.
Walcher was appointed to the position in July 2014 when Grayson Robinson retired. Walcher then defeated Tyler Brown in the November 2014 Sheriff’s race.
During the 2018 campaign, Walcher asked Tyler Brown to publicly release a separation agreement Brown signed with the Northglenn Police Department in 2012. A YouTube video of the Aug. 20, 2018 campaign debate shows Brown saying, “Yes, I’ll make the separation agreement available.”
He never did. When the Problem Solvers asked Sheriff Brown if he would give Northglenn Police permission to release it to FOX31, he replied, “It would be something I would have to think about and I would have to get back to you on that.”
So far, he has not. However, he was candid about what led to his departure from the Northglenn Police Department, where he worked from 2009 to 2012.
Brown was the focus of an internal affairs investigation that accused him of dishonesty. It was initiated after Brown’s rifle jammed at a gun range and failed to fire ruing a testing exercise. Brown was accused of not keeping his gun clean, an accusation Brown denied. Before Northglenn police completed its internal affairs investigation, Brown agreed to quit and leave under a still-confidential separation agreement.
“They were looking for something to make a big deal out of. I had spoken up about some issues at the city of Northglenn and I think that ruffled some feathers,” said Brown, explaining why he thinks Northglenn opened an investigation over something he considered to be a minor matter.
After he left the Northglenn Police Department, Tyler Brown applied to be deputy in Arapahoe County.
When asked why he thinks Arapahoe County rejected him, Brown replied, “I can assume it was during the suitability assessment, which is kind of a subjective opinion of someone if they would be a good fit at an agency.”
The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office uses the firm Nicoletti-Flater Associates to do its pre-employment screenings. Brown’s test results are confidential.
Dr. Evan Axelrod is a psychologist who conducts suitability testing for Nicoletti-Flater and says in general the suitability assessment looks for personality traits that might identify a red flag for law enforcement agencies.
“We look at their honesty and integrity. We look at their employment history, their ability to comply with laws and rules, how they interact with other people, anger management, stress management… things of that nature,” said Dr. Axelrod.
After Arapahoe County declined to hire Brown, he joined the Aurora Public School District in April 2013 as one of 10 campus safety officers. He left in January 2015 to take a job with the Mountain View Police Department. Mountain View is a tiny suburb tucked between Denver and Wheat Ridge. It has 10 officers who patrol 16 square blocks for 523 residents.
Mountain View’s civilian population is smaller than the entire department Sheriff Brown now manages. The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office has about 500 sworn officers and 230 civilians employed. Brown went from making nearly $61,000 dollars a year in Mountain View to more than a $153,000 dollars a year as the Sheriff in Arapahoe County.
Sheriff Brown admitted to the Problem Solvers he may have to win over some rank-and-file deputies since he brought in outsiders to fill three of his nine-member command staff.
“I’m excited for this opportunity and I’m humbled by it. It takes a team and we have a great team in place to provide that service right now,” Brown said.
Brown has a younger brother who is an Arapahoe County deputy. Sheriff Brown tells FOX31 he’s already written a memo making it clear there will be no nepotism or favorable treatment for his younger brother.
The new sheriff says ultimately, voters will decide in four years if he was the right person for the job.
“I would say the biggest group that I have to prove myself to is every citizen. Now, the election is over, politics are out the window. I’m not the ‘D’ sheriff. I’m not the ‘R’ sheriff. I’m the Arapahoe County Sheriff and we are here to provide the service to every citizen,” Brown said.
Meanwhile, the city of Centennial is considering creating its own police department. It has hired Walcher to do a feasibility study to examine the whether the city should form its own force and how that could be accomplished. His report is due in March.
Corrected February 22, 2019. An earlier version of this report misstated the number of outside command staff hires made by Sheriff Tyler Brown, starting salary information during his previous employment with the Mountain View police Department, and the number of times he unsuccessfully sought employment as an Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Deputy before being elected.