Who is Jon Geiger? Convicted cop who was decertified ends up as Colorado town police chief
Joe Clingan, the former police chief of the small town of Nunn, Colorado, hired Jon Geiger to the force in April. At the time, there seemed to be nothing unusual about the appointment. However, it's a decision Clingan has since regretted, as it has put the tiny town in the national spotlight. Not only has Geiger's shady past come into the picture, but it has also emerged he was promoted to chief less than a month into the job.
With the conviction of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin, there has been a huge spotlight on police officers all over the US. Not only are more cops being named and shamed for shooting Black Americans, but there are increasing reports of dirty cops in the media. During the January 6 insurrection, a cop was slammed after footage emerged of him "gently escorting" a woman down the steps of the Capitol. In April, a White Baltimore cop sparked widespread outrage after he was spotted coughing on Black residents.
Now, it appears to be Geiger's turn. A shocking investigation into his past revealed Geiger's long history of misconduct, so much so that he was even decertified by the Colorado Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) board, a state agency. Nonetheless, he managed to nab the top job in Nunn, indicating just how easy it is for cops with questionable credentials to continue their jobs.
Who is Jon Geiger?
Little is known about Geiger beyond his questionable record as a police officer. We could not find a Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn profile in his name. Therefore we aren't sure where he is from, or if he had any other jobs before becoming a police officer. The 52-year-old was hired to join the Nunn police department in April 2021, and in May was made interim chief once Clingan retired. On investigation, The Denver Post found that the appointment was far from normal, and uncovered Geiger's shady past.
Prior to serving in Nunn, Geiger served in Georgetown, Telluride, and Kansas amongst other departments. His exact history is unclear, but the Post and The Daily Beast managed to track some of his past records. Geiger reportedly joined the Telluride Marshals in 2008. His stint there led to numerous complaints as The Beast reported. However, no action was taken and he was allowed to leave in 2012. When approached for comment, the Telluride chief simply said Geiger was "not eligible for rehire."
In January 2014, Geiger was hired by the police department in Ellis, Kansas, but he was suspended in September that year. It's not clear why, but Taft Yates, the then-chief of the Ellis Police Department told The Beast it was due to an internal investigation. Reportedly, Geiger was never formally suspended but left during the investigation. He then moved on to Georgetown, where he joined the rare group of cops who have been charged for a crime.
In fact, Geiger's credibility issues are so bad, he has been placed on the 'Brady List' in the Fifth Judicial District. The list keeps track of cops whose credibility can impact their testimony in court. However, that listing didn't follow him to Weld County, where Nunn is located. DA Michael Rourke acknowledged that oversight in Colorado, saying, "There’s not a good mechanism yet when an officer leaves one jurisdiction and goes to another." The biggest red flag though comes from Georgetown. In 2018, Geiger was indicted by a grand jury and pleaded guilty. That led to him losing his POST certification, which should have been the end of his policing career, but unfortunately, it was overlooked by Clingan.
Geiger indicted for use of force
In 2016, when Geiger was at the Georgetown police department, he allegedly used force on a suspect. According to reports, he was filling out paperwork for a DUI suspect in a nearby cell. The suspect began to bang to door open and close since it did not latch. In response, Geiger pulled the man from the cell and pushed him against a wall, briefly twisting his arm behind him.
In 2018, he pleaded guilty to harassment involving a strike or a shove. That resulted in the POST decertification, meaning Geiger was no longer eligible to work as a cop in Colorado. In 2020, Geiger appealed the decertification and won, and was promptly reinstated. The committee that made the decision questioned why Geiger was criminally charged and felt he did not use excessive force. That decision was slammed by former DA Bruce Brown. Brown told The Post, "the record in the criminal court is clear. He was indicted, which is a finding of probable cause, he was convicted, which means he admitted that the charge could be proven — and was proven by his plea — beyond a reasonable doubt."
In a letter to the POST board, Geiger said he only pleaded guilty because he couldn’t afford to hire an attorney and to "put the matter behind me". He claims he wasn't actually guilty. He also claimed the death of his grandchild left him "emotionally exhausted". The reversal meant Geiger had his license back, which allowed him to apply for the role in Nunn. And since he had his license, Clingan didn't believe there was a need to dive deeply into Gieger's past. "Everything sounded legitimate," he told The Beast, but now he comes to regret his decision.
The Beast noted that Gieger had left all his previous jobs "under the cloud of sometimes vague internal investigations". Nonetheless, none of those red flags were noticed by Clingan. He didn't back Geiger to take over on his retirement, but the town decided to go ahead with the appointment. So far, Geiger appears to have kept his job in Nunn, but that could change as a police accountability bill goes into effect.