Cop who parked cruiser on railroad tracks deemed ‘significant’ liability risk by previous employer

Body cam and dash cam footage released by the The Fort Lupton Police Department, the agency responsible for the accident, shows the train crashing into the police cruiser as Rios-Gonzalez calls for help. She ultimately survived the crash with serious injuries, according to investigation agencythe Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Platteville police officers became involved in the incident when one of the force’s officers spotted the vehicle Rios-Gonzalez was driving. Neighboring agencies had received a description of the car after a 911 caller claimed a woman in the vehicle pulled a gun on him in a road rage argument.

As Vazquez parked his cruiser on the train tracks, another officer who had responded to the scene from Fort Lupton police, put Rios-Gonzalez in the cruiser.

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Vazquez had already been at the center of five internal affairs investigations even before Platteville police hired him, and other officers launched two of the investigations, CBS News reported.

“Ppolice officers serving under Sergeant Pablo Vazquez have approached police administrators with concerns about Sergeant Vazquez’s work performance,” someone wrote in a complaint to Internal Affairs obtained by the news station. .

In another complaint, another person wrote:

“A police officer complained that Sergeant Pablo Vazquez…has a lack of knowledge of radio and often needs multiple contacts before responding…knowledge of the unit and calls needs improvement …rarely knows where his officers are and what type of call they are on…has an extremely slow response time to calls or requests for cover.”

Federal Heights police administrators conducted a performance review of Vazquez and developed an improvement plan for him in September 2019, CBS News Colorado reported. Administrators wrote in the plan, “Sgt. Vazquez’s documented failure to provide adequate supervision presented a significant risk of liability to the City of Federal Heights and the safety of officers under his supervision.”

In his evaluation, supervisors gave him one of the lowest ratings possible, citing his “poor quality of work” and leadership that “needs improvement.” “The employee is unable to achieve effective results,” officials wrote of Vazquez.

Apparently seeing the writing on the wall, he resigned on March 14, 2020 and continued to work for the Platteville police. “Platteville conducts a standard background check that investigates an applicant’s work history and criminal record,” Platteville Police Chief Carl Dwyer told CBS News Colorado.

Vazquez continued to receive negative remarks from Platteville supervisors, according to internal business documents obtained by CBS News Colorado and dated January. The chief reportedly told Vazquez, accused of tampering with a colleague’s cellphone, that his actions were “inappropriate”.

“Please exercise good judgment in the future to avoid further disciplinary action,” the chief said in what had been a written reprimand.

Apparently better judgment isn’t something the sergeant is capable of.

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RELATED STORY: Unnamed 911 caller says he was victim of ‘road rage’ incident, not handcuffed woman hit by train