Local News

Soap Lake Police Department under fire

SOAP LAKE, Wash. - Six missing bags of marijuana plants, guns and ammo in evidence lockers without case numbers -- these are just a few of the problems highlighted in a report on the Soap Lake Police Department.

An outside investigation by the Moses Lake Police Department and two other agencies found that Soap Lake police officers didn't receive required training.

On top of that, evidence was improperly logged or placed in different insecure areas.

In one case, a rape kit was found in a refrigerator next to the police chief's lunch.

Police evidence in Soap Lake is supposed to go into a locker in the day room and then into this safe but a recent investigation found that always doesn't happen.

Soap Lake Police debacle video

The report also said there were significant problems with the department's hiring process.

"Obviously these matters just didn't surface Jan. 4 when I took office. They have a history," said Soap Lake Mayor Raymond Gravelle.

Acting on complaints from citizens and other sources, Grant County Prosecutor D. Angus Lee initiated an investigation into the Soap Lake Police Department, generating a 44-page report.

"I will say that we have received a request from Moses Police to consider that report for potential criminal charges and it's under that review right now," said Lee.

The report highlights a broken system for logging criminal evidence. It also cited mishandled drugs. Case in point: An officer who took home seized marijuana only to report his dog ate the drugs.

"The biggest problem is the effect it's going to have on current cases and cases going forward," said Lee.

Lee noted that it probably won't affect previous cases but that his office would be looking into that possibility.

Another audit found DNA evidence stuck to the inside of former Chief Jim Dorris' refrigerator. The report also points out that training hours were falsified.

Gravelle says the chief said he didn't have the money to pay his officers to train.

"There's only $600 annually for training. There's only $1,000 for maintenance [and] repairs," said Gravelle.

That, says Lee, is no excuse.

"Honestly budget (and) police agency size has nothing to do with it. It's just mismanagement plain and simple, and it is a big deal," said Lee.

Now with a broken system the Healing Waters city is hoping it can do just that.

"Ultimately the council voted unanimously in favor of rebuilding Soap Lake's police department. So that's my mission now," said Gravelle.

The police chief and one other officer have stepped down; former chief Dorris is said to be on the East Coast recovering from a serious medical condition.