DENVER (KDVR) — When Denver Sheriff Maj. Jodi Blair suddenly retired last summer rather than face a demotion to captain, she did so in an email where she wrote, “I do not have it in me to spend one more day working under such a toxic administration.”
The resignation/retirement letter, dated Aug. 6, was obtained by the Problem Solvers through a public records request. The letter was addressed to Denver Sheriff Elias Diggins but it was also carbon copied to fellow sheriff’s department leaders and, notably, Murphy Robinson, the director of public safety, and Mary Dulacki, the chief deputy executive director of public safety.
Yet neither the top two leaders at the Department of Public Safety nor Diggins forwarded Blair’s resignation letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity coordinator at the public safety department to investigate if Blair’s allegations of “discrimination and blatant retaliation” had any merit.
As a result, it wasn’t until Dec. 2 that the Administrative Investigations Unit opened an internal affairs investigation, with Diggins and his leadership as the focus of its case.
Why did it take 4 months to investigate?
When the Problem Solvers asked why nearly four months went by before an investigation was opened, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety told FOX31: “The City Attorney’s Office has engaged the services of an outside investigator to determine why Jodi Blair’s letter was not forwarded to the DOS’ EEO Coordinator for further action. The use of an outside investigator is standard procedure when DOS executives are named in an investigation.”
“I was stunned,” said Mary Dodge, a professor of criminology at the University of Colorado Denver, who after reading Blair’s letter said it should have warranted immediate attention and follow-up. “Certainly, that would be your first step. You read that letter then you do an investigation. You don’t wait four months.”
The Department of Public Safety executives facing an outside investigation are Robinson and Dulacki. Dulacki told FOX31 she could not comment on a pending investigation. But Robinson — whose last day is Friday, Jan. 7, after announcing Dec.13 that he would be stepping down — told the Problem Solvers he never remembered receiving Blair’s retirement letter in an email.
Murphy Robinson told FOX31 that he found the email after receiving an inquiry from the City Attorney’s Office in December. But he said because he receives so many emails on a daily basis, he often relies on his assistant to flag some of his emails.
“Doesn’t it seem kind of crazy that they could have taken care of this initially without having an investigation of the investigation and caused all these problems? The goal was let’s ignore it and this will go away, she’s (Blair) gone,” Dodge, the criminology professor, surmised.
Robinson encouraged Blair’s demotion
Robinson denies he wanted Blair’s concerns to disappear and said he encouraged the City Attorney’s Office to hire an outside law firm to conduct an investigation. As for Blair’s allegations of a toxic work environment that included retaliatory behavior, Robinson told the Problem Solvers he actually received numerous complaints from department employees about Blair and as a result, he encouraged Diggins to demote Blair.
“I asked the sheriff to move with making sure his personnel appointments reflected his leadership and I informed him about all the complaints I got about Jodi Blair and people’s concerns about retaliation from her and mistrust of her leadership,” Robinson said.
Robinson insisted his departure as the leader of the Department of Public Safety after two years is in no way connected to the outside investigation and that he told the mayor back in October he would be stepping down.
In her retirement letter, Blair told Diggins:
I had hoped that the day I wrote this letter I would be at a true retirement and not a deferred retirement under the Rule of 75. Unfortunately I do not have it in me to spend one more day working under such a toxic administration. With that being said please except this letter as my formal resignation. My last day is August 6th, 2021. I apologize for the short notice but only two days ago I was informed that I was being demoted without cause. Just so you are aware, no one knows what your vision is or what direction you are taking the agency in. If it is on the idea of “leading with humanity”, you have to show it before you can stand on a pedestal and preach it, do a little self reflection.Now-retired Denver Sheriff Maj. Jodi Blair
Separate workplace complaint pending
FOX31 has learned it was a more recent, separate internal complaint about the sheriff’s department workplace environment, which referenced Blair’s resignation letter, that caught the attention of the City Attorney’s Office.
It is that complaint, combined with Blair’s letter, that has the sheriff now facing an internal affairs investigation. His investigation is separate from the outside agency that is being asked to look at whether Robinson or Dulacki had an obligation to forward Blair’s blistering retirement letter to the EEO coordinator for the department.
Blair’s retirement letter stated, in closing:
I will miss my co-workers and those I call friends, but I know I will be much healthier and happier out from under the constant negativity and retaliatory treatment of this administration. I hope that you and those who placed you in your current position realize that you are the problem and some people do not change.
In closing I ask that you remember the golden rule, do onto others as you would have them do onto you.Now-retired Denver Sheriff Maj. Jodi Blair