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Colorado Deputy Chief Placed on Suspension

May 26--A top-ranking Pueblo police officer has been suspended for violating a department policy, The Pueblo Chieftain has learned.

Interim Chief Luis Velez confirmed that Deputy Chief Andy McLachlan was the focus of an internal investigation and was disciplined on Wednesday.

Because the issue is a personnel matter, Velez would not discuss specifics about the investigation, except, "The findings were such that I did serve him with some suspension time."

McLachlan's suspension is in the five-day range, according to sources.

McLachlan was disciplined for seeking personal support from firefighters and city leaders against a policy proposal by Velez that would affect the department's deputy chiefs, sources say.

The proposal would make it easier to replace or promote officers to the rank of deputy chief. In his conversations with outsiders, McLachlan reportedly was found in violation of disclosing internal department information.

"At this point I do not have a comment," McLachlan said in an email.

Citing personnel matters, City Manager Jerry Pacheco also would not comment.

McLachlan is a 26-year veteran of the force who was promoted to deputy chief in 2006. He was a candidate for police chief last year, one of a handful selected from a nationwide search to replace Jim Billings, who retired in February.

McLachlan didn't make the list of finalists. The two finalists eventually withdrew their names for the job at the last minute, sparking an independent review of the department.

Soon after Billings retired Velez was named interim chief. He was recommended to city leaders by a member of the KRW Associates LLC consulting group, which audited and sharply criticized the department, finding many problems including severe sick-leave abuse and poor leadership.

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