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Patrol captain disciplined for phone abuse

The head of the Washington State Patrol's training academy was demoted by Chief John Batiste this week.

The chief said he reduced former captain Fred Fakkema to the rank of lieutenant for "egregious" personal use of his state-issued cell phone.

Batiste said he took the action after "learning of matters of concern that rise to a level of seriousness that fails to maintain my trust regarding the position. Being a leader of others, that's very important to me."

The change in rank, called a reversion, is at the chief's discretion and does not require an official disciplinary report, said a patrol information officer, Capt. Jeff DeVere.

The disciplinary action was taken Wednesday and was related to another investigation at the Criminal Justice Training Commission. That investigation involved Wanda Townsend, a quality standards and technology manager for the commission. The commission provides training to police departments across the state.

"She received a reprimand for using a state phone for personal purposes," public information officer Cheryl Price said. Townsend is the only commission employee to have received discipline for personal use of a state cell phone in recent weeks, Price said.

"As a matter of routine, the phone records are looked at monthly for all personnel," Price added, noting the investigation began after numerous personal calls by Townsend were discovered.

No other information on either investigation was available. The agencies cited confidentiality rules surrounding personnel issues.

Batiste said this is the first time he has used his authority to directly reduce the rank of an officer.

"Let me put it this way, I expect my command officers to exercise good judgment at all times," he said. "It's unfortunate. I have a lot of respect for this young man."

The chief said has not decided on a replacement for Fakkema, who has been moved to a different administrative post in the patrol.

Fakkema began supervising the patrol's training division in November 2005, nine months after Batiste was appointed chief by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

A telephone call to Fakkema for comment was not immediately returned.

Townsend was out of the office this week, according to her workplace voice messaging system.

Jeremy Pawloski covers public safety issues for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-754-5465 or jpawloski@theolympian.com.

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