A lawsuit filed last week by former Glenrock Police Chief David Theel alleges he was wrongfully terminated from his position in 2021.
Theel’s exit from the police department came after an investigation into his conduct and treatment of employees, plus a hearing in front of the town council. According to the complaint, he was placed on administrative leave in February and officially terminated in October. Theel was hired in March 2019.
The suit alleges that the town did not follow its own grievance procedure, failing to notify Theel of the allegations against him until several months later.
Glenrock Mayor Bruce Roumell said he expected the suit, and that the town was served on Wednesday.
Besides Roumell, the complaint also names the town’s clerk, one member of its town council and the interim chief of police, Sgt. Colter Felton.
Theel was first investigated in February 2020 for allegations of him “overreacting, being condescending, and being a generally unpleasant boss,” according to the suit. That independent investigation reportedly found there was simply morale problems at the department, and the town did not take any actions. The suit states Theel was never told about these allegations.
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A year later, this February, Theel was placed on administrative leave roughly six days after assigned an investigator to look into rumors of a teacher-student relationship at Glenrock High School, the suit states.
A second investigation was initiated and a group of police department employees sent a letter to the town council asking for a vote of no confidence against Theel, according to court filings.
Thirteen employees (roughly half the department) signed the letter, and Theel says in the complaint that he believes Felton, the interim chief, pressured at least one person into signing before reading it. The letter alleged that Theel was a narcissist, created a hostile work environment and had failed to perform some required duties, according to the lawsuit.
That second investigation led to another petition, filed by Glenrock Independent publisher Matt Adelman in June, after the paper was denied access to the report generated by Casper lawyer Alaina Stedillie.
In November, those documents were released with certain employee information redacted.
Theel also alleges that between June and July, town employees including law enforcement officers, the mayor and public works director drove by his home multiple times a day, though it is not on a through street. He and his wife, the suit states, felt they were being surveilled and were traumatized by the experience.
At Theel’s request, a pre-termination hearing was set for August, then pushed back to October. Following that hearing, held publicly in front of the town council and Mayor Roumell, the council voted to terminate him.
Alleging that the events caused him and his wife emotional distress, damaged their reputations and cost them pay and benefits, Theel is seeking damages and compensation for mental and physical care.
Follow city and crime reporter Ellen Gerst on Twitter at @ellengerst.