On June 19, 2012 the Bainbridge Island Police Guild sent the following letter to Interim City Manager Morgan Smith outlining concerns on the pending investigation into the issues the Guild brought forward in its “no-confidence” vote.
The reasons this is important to the community, as well as the Guild, is that any investigation should be transparent, comprehensive, and fair. Because of that the Guild would like the community to know the investigative rationale that was forwarded to Ms. Smith and each City Council Member.
June 18, 2012
280 Madison Avenue North
Bainbridge Island, Washington 98110
REF: Concerns regarding the selection of an investigator
Dear Ms. Smith,
The Bainbridge Island Police Guild would like to thank you and the Council for taking prompt action regarding the concerns that were outlined in the letter dated June 11, 2012, regarding the vote of no confidence.
We understand the next step in the process is to have the allegations investigated by an outside law enforcement agency or possibly a private investigator. The cost of that investigation is not to exceed $30,000.
The Guild would like to humbly offer the options available to you and the Council, and the way this type of investigation is normally preformed and why.
Typically, the subject being investigated is advised of the allegation in writing and placed on administrative leave with pay and benefits. The person’s gun, badge, city vehicle and key to the police department are taken from them and they are not allowed access to the police department during the investigation. The subject is told not to discuss the incident(s) with anyone other than their representative; commonly their attorney or union representative. This is done to avoid influencing witnesses or possibly altering and/or destroying evidence.
The guild respectfully suggests that since there are allegations of potential criminal conduct, on the part of Chief Fehlman, that the investigation be conducted by an outside law enforcement agency vs. a private investigator
Law enforcement is the most knowledgeable about criminal investigative procedures where a private investigator may not be. Larger agencies have internal affairs divisions that specialize in investigating violations of policy and law by law enforcement personnel. They have the authority to investigate criminal charges where a private investigator does not.
I might also add that an outside law enforcement agency will complete their investigation at no monetary charge to the City representing a potential savings to taxpayers of up to $30,000.
If a private investigator is selected and finds possible criminal charges, an outside law enforcement agency will then need to reinvestigate the allegations. This will extend the time before reaching a resolution.
We are concerned about how this investigation will be handled and who will be selected to conduct it. We believe the best solution is to follow past practice and select an outside law enforcement agency to conduct this investigation.
The City, in compliance with the Local Government Employee Whistleblower Protection Act, RCW 42.41.050, encourages employees to disclose any improper governmental action without fear of retaliation. In accordance with the Procedure for Reporting Improper Government Action, the guild undertook the vote of no confidence as a last step to obtain help from city leaders. The production of the allegations, and supporting documentation, allege that the chief has engaged in malfeasance of his office. The majority of the guild members who supported this action will be making use of COBI Policy 2.05.
In closing, we thank you for your timely action in this matter and would like you to know that the Guild Executive Board will make ourselves available to you or the City Council if there are any questions.
Bainbridge Island Police Guild