Radabaugh shares personal connection with “BlacKkKlansman”

SWAT team after they raided the Teller County Ku Klux Klan compound in 1982.

Rich Radabaugh, a senior instructor in criminal justice for the School of Public Affairs, teaches courses in constitutional law, courts and the judicial process, interviewing and interrogating people, and intro to criminal justice. But the veteran of 84 SWAT missions shares multiple connections with Ron Stallworth, the first African-American detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department and the subject of Spike Lee’s latest film “BlacKkKlansman.”

Both joined the CSPD in 1972. Stallworth became an undercover detective while Radabaugh joined the SWAT team as a sniper. Stallworth infiltrated the Klan, and with his white surrogate, became the head of the local branch. Once the Klan started placing bombs at local authorities’ homes, the SWAT team stepped in.

Rich Radabaugh after his SWAT team raided the Ku Klux Klan compound in Teller County.

Authorities learned of a compound in Teller County, where the local Klan members had based their operations. The decision was made to raid the compound in 1982.

“They were some seriously dangerous individuals,” Radabaugh said. “They had holes in the sides of the mountain with their supplies and armed guards around the mountain. Every single member we arrested was armed.”

SWAT arrested members in town first to prevent members from notifying those at the compound.

“Colorado Springs was a difference place then, the Klan would hold demonstrations at Acacia park on the weekends,” Radabaugh said. “After we raided the compound their presence ended.”

Radabaugh spent more than 30 years with CSPD as a police officer and a SWAT team member for seven of those years. He also became a lawyer during that time and opened his own practice. His other missions included narcotic warrants, search and arrest warrants, VIP protection, high-risk transports and more. In 2012, he joined the faculty in the School of Public Affairs, and in 2018, was named the UCCS Outstanding Instructor of the Year.

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