Albany County Sheriff’s Corporal Derek Colling will likely return to work within the next few weeks, according to Albany County Sheriff Dave O’Malley.
On Jan. 10, a grand jury declined to indict Colling for his killing of Robbie Ramirez in the line of duty last November. Colling has been on paid administrative leave since the killing.
In a meeting with Albany County for Proper Policing (ACoPP) last week, O’Malley said that Colling would likely return to work as a detective, not as a patrol officer. O’Malley said that given the high-profile shooting and the tensions it has created within the Albany County community, it would be more appropriate to have Colling off patrol and out of uniform.
But, O’Malley said, since the grand jury declined to indict Colling and since O’Malley still considers Colling a good officer, the sheriff said he has no standing to dismiss Colling or to assign him to a lesser position.
Colling’s return to work as a detective.
ACoPP’s founding members say they are deeply dismayed to learn that Colling will return to work with the sheriff’s office. The group, which formed shortly after Ramirez’s killing, has heard from countless Albany County residents who have said they feel unsafe with Colling working here in law enforcement. At a community forum ACoPP hosted in January, dozens of residents expressed deep reservations about Colling’s decision-making abilities and his repeated use of force.
Ramirez is the third person Colling has killed in the line of duty. Colling was also fired from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for a separate on-duty assault.
According to ACoPP, Colling’s return to work threatens the element of trust between officers and the community that is necessary for proper law enforcement.
“The people of Albany County didn’t want Colling hired in the first place. They knew his history of violence, and they were afraid that something exactly like [Ramirez’s killing] would happen,” ACoPP founding member Karlee Provenza said. “Now that Colling has killed again without consequence, people in Albany County aren’t going to trust Colling to help them solve a crime, and they’re not going to trust the sheriff’s office in general.”
At the time of his meeting with ACoPP, last Thursday, O’Malley said he had not received a copy of the report by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation about Ramirez’s killing. O’Malley has since received the DCI report and says he will review it this week.
As of early Monday morning, neither the DCI report, nor Ramirez’s autopsy, nor any information from the grand jury proceedings had been made available to Ramirez’s family or the public.
At its meeting with O’Malley last week, ACoPP members and the sheriff discussed a wide range of potential systemic reforms that the Albany County Sheriff’s Office would like to pursue in the wake of Ramirez’s killing. ACoPP looks forward to future discussions with the sheriff regarding such reforms.