DENVER (CBS4) – Denver’s manager of safety says if she had it to do over, she would not send a text message to a friend on the fire department warning him about personnel complaints against him.
Stephanie O’Malley’s text message to former Denver Fire Cpt. Harold Johnson warning him of internal complaints about him prompted the Denver police union to file an ethics complaint last week against O’Malley accusing her of improperly sharing inside information with a friend.
“If I had it to do all over again, as a matter of judgment, I probably wouldn’t do it again,” O’Malley said during a wide ranging interview with CBS4.
O’Malley and Johnson were friends and had gone on at least one date, according to Johnson, when she texted him in October 2014 giving him a “heads up” about complaints she heard about.
“Hey … fyi”, read the text,” some at the station complaining to Eric (Eric Tade, Denver’s Fire Chief) about you … watch your back be guarded with your tone – comments.”
The complaints about Johnson that O’Malley passed along evolved into a full-fledged internal investigation which led to Johnson’s firing from the Denver Fire Department earlier this month for 13 rule violations.
Last week the Denver Police Protective Association filed an ethics complaint against O’Malley accusing her of sharing “confidential information that is not available to the public, and is, in fact, protected from disclosure by the City.”
Johnson told CBS4 he viewed the text message as a clear tip off of a pending investigation. Although O’Malley now says she wishes she had not sent the text, she defends what she did saying she was not tipping off a friend.
“I was conveying do your job well. That was my intent in sending the text to him.”
She told CBS4 she learned about the complaints from Chief Eric Tade in a brief, passing conversation. Although she defends what she did, she said she would not do it again because “it creates conversations like this and that’s not something I want to continue to be a part of.” O’Malley said she had never before passed along information to any friends who work in Denver public safety agencies which she oversees.
During the interview with CBS4, O’Malley asserted that she believes that the Denver Fire Department has “a tremendous gap” between the number of women and minorities it currently has and the number of women and minorities O’Malley believes should be on the fire department. She said African Americans are “absolutely underrepresented” on the Denver Fire Department.
“Our Denver Fire Department is comprised largely of white males”, said O’Malley.
According to DFD figures, of its 969 employees, 72.23 percent are white, 5.05 percent, or 49, are black or African American, 18.16 percent are Hispanic, and 4 percent, or 41 members, are female.
”There clearly is a need for more representation of our community,” offered O’Malley.
In the 30-minute interview O’Malley — the daughter of former Mayor Wellington Webb — said she is open to the idea of eventually following in her father’s footsteps and running for Mayor.
“I would never discount the opportunity to be the leader of this city. I would never say never,” said O’Malley.