Police sergeant resigns during investigation

A Bonney Lake police sergeant has resigned amid an internal investigation into allegations that officers were paid for time they didn't work on a traffic enforcement program.

The sergeant, whose name was not released, was in charge of the program and allowed other officers to end their shifts early, though they drew full pay, Bonney Lake police announced Wednesday.

“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 news release stated. “His resignation came as a direct result of the internal investigation.”

The investigation was launched in early September after a manager with the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission contacted Police Chief Mike Mitchell and relayed concerns about some of the officers working on speed emphasis patrols, which were paid for by a grant.

She provided the chief with dates and times to look into, and an investigation was launched.

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

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 the officers had met or exceeded the expectations of the Traffic Safety Commission for number of contacts supplied, but the hours of actual work were questionable.

The sergeant told the officers they had to “maintain a minimum/maximum number of traffic violations” but could “leave their work assignments once this minimum/maximum number was met.”

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

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

The department’s 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 did not return calls from The News Tribune regarding the investigation.