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Bonney Lake sergeant resigns during internal investigation

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Oct. 27, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
October 27, 2010 4:04 pm

A Bonney Lake police sergeant has resigned amidst an internal investigation into allegations that officers got paid for time they didn’t work on a grant-funded traffic enforcement program.

The sergeant, who’s name was not released, was in charge of the program, the Bonney Lake Police Department announced today.

“The sergeant in charge was found to have given orders that were in conflict with the department’s standard policy and procedures manual and has recently resigned his position from the department prior to corrective action being initiated against him,” a department press release stated. “His resignation came as a direct result of the internal investigation.”

The investigation was launched in early September. A manager with the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission contacted Police Chief Mike Mitchell and relayed concerns about how some of the officers worked the grant-funded speed emphasis patrols, the press release states. She provided the chief with dates and times to look into and an investigation was launched.

“During the preliminary investigation, a period of one to three hours of apparent officer inactivity was discovered,” the press release stated.

The chief ordered an internal investigation, which found that six officers and the sergeant had participated in the speed emphasis patrols under review.

The investigation revealed that the officers had met or exceeded the expectations for number of contacts supplied by the Traffic Safety Commission but the hours of actual work was questionable.

“The sergeant in charge of this program gave orders to the officers involved in the emphasis to maintain a minimum/maximum number of traffic violations,” a press release stated. “He also permitted the officers to leave their work assignments once this minimum/maximum number was met.”

One officer had gone home early but reported working the entire shift. The remaining officers found other department-related work to do or took the meal breaks that they were entitled to.

The investigation found the sergeant’s actions were against department policies.

The press release did not indicate whether any of the officers were disciplined. It did say the sergeant’s resignation “saved the department and the city the need to continue the investigational process.”

Mitchell has not returned calls from The News Tribune regarding the investigation.

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