Posts Tagged ‘Scott Weiss’

“The evidence partially supports and partially refutes the Guild’s allegations.”

That sentence appears throughout the Rebecca Dean report on the allegations in the Bainbridge Island Police Guild’s vote of no confidence against Chief Jon Fehlman. It could serve as a summary of the report itself, which partially addresses the Guild’s allegations, and is partially inconclusive. It could also be a portrait of the Guild, which comes across as partially a group of dedicated officers and partially a band of immature tattletales.

The allegations in the Guild’s no confidence vote range from relatively minor judgment errors or misunderstandings on Fehlman’s part, to rehashing of previously resolved union complaints, to petty gossip and rumor, to at least one falsehood. For a summary, go here.

Now that Fehlman has resigned, issues about his performance are no longer relevant. But the rest of the department remains–and Bainbridge will be well served if the police management study proposed by Interim City Manager Morgan Smith looks at the BIPD’s organization and culture, the influence of the Guild, the quality of each member’s performance, and the attitude they have toward each other, their work and to the members of the community they serve.

As a glimpse into BIPD culture, one Guild allegation stands out for its dishonesty and recklessness: the claim that Fehlman falsely stated in deposition testimony that he gave an oral reprimand to Lieutenant Chris Jensen for providing faulty information about the Ostling shooting. The Guild wrote in its no confidence complaint: “The Chief’s statement under oath violates policy and state laws relating to perjury and false swearing.” [emphasis in the original]

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After two months,$25,000 and hundreds of pages of reports and exhibits, the report by investigator Rebecca Dean on the allegations against Chief Jon Fehlman by the police Guild is complete.

At the same time the report was released to the public, Interim City Manager Morgan Smith also announced that Fehlman has resigned.

Although the no confidence vote is no longer relevant to the question of whether Fehlman should stay, it is the clearest publicly available indication of the attitudes and thinking of Guild members and deserves careful consideration as the City moves forward with its anticipated police management study.

Smith directed Dean to investigate the allegations made in the Guild’s vote of no confidence, taken in June. Although Guild leadership has said its most significant complaint about Fehlman is his leadership style, Smith told Dean she was not to investigate allegations related to his performance in that areas or to policy matters “for which determinations or assessments would be subjective rather than fact-based.” Smith further instructed Dean not to investigate allegations related to the Ostling litigation, “which represents ongoing litigation.” (more…)

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This post has been revised as of 6/23 to reflect an updated Summary of Police Disciplinary Action I received from the City on Friday, 6/22. The updated document shortens former chief Haney’s years of service to five years, from 2004-2009. During those years the police department received 14 citizen complaints, and none were sustained. The department conducted 30 internal investigations with 9 sustained. The percentage of total sustained allegations of complaints and internal investigations more than doubled from Haney’s 20% to Fehlman’s 50%.¬†

Public records reveal that officer discipline meted out by Chief Jon Fehlman during his three-year tenure exceeds that of his predecessor, Matt Haney, particularly with respect to citizen complaints.

The City tracks complaints separately from internal investigations. In the 3 years since Fehlman became chief in 2009, there have been 6 complaints, 3 of which resulted in ¬†sustained allegations and discipline of officers. There were 9 internal investigations filed. Of those, 4 were sustained and 3 are ongoing investigations. Officers were disciplined for theft, stalking, conduct unbecoming, and illegal recording, among other actions. Discipline included issuing letters of reprimand or accepting the officer’s resignation. (more…)

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