SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police have suspended an officer for 30 days after determining he had an inappropriate relationship with a woman in a case he was investigating.
According to an internal affairs investigation that was completed last week, Officer Chris Conrath engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer and a charge that includes "nepotism and conflicting relationships."
The investigation stems from a domestic violence call on Monday, September 7th. A woman alleged she was assaulted by her husband. Officer Conrath was called to investigate and determined there was not probable cause to arrest anyone in the case.
According to the report, Officer Conrath and the woman began exchanging phone calls, text messages and emails, which began five hours after that initial domestic violence call. The woman's husband "discovered evidence of the relationship after finding messages on the wife's iPad, which included one of Conrath and his wife agreeing to meet late at night at the Japanese Gardens," according to an internal affairs report. "One of the wife's communications related to that meeting was asking Ofc. Conrath "do you want me to wear my sexy clothes?"
The report states that two days after that initial call, Officer Conrath drove his patrol car to the Japanese Gardens to meet the woman. They made plans to meet later that morning at a hotel in Spokane Valley. According to the report, the two "engaged in mutual oral sex. It has been 32 hours since the time of the initial [domestic violence] call."
The woman's husband reports seeing text messages on his wife's phone and tracking the information back to Officer Conrath.
Members of the police guild questioned Officer Conrath in October. He admitted having sexual contact with the woman and that they had a flirtatious relationship. He told them, "It was just a stupid thing for me to be engaging in and I knew that... I have some personal issues at home I'm dealing with... I was sort of flirting with disaster."
Conrath added, "I freely recognize this was my wrongdoing and I made a big mistake and I take responsibility for it. This kind of thing would never happen to me again."
As part of the internal affairs investigation, it was determined Officer Conrath was correct in not finding probable cause to arrest the woman's husband in the initial investigation. His actions after the initial contact were problematic, though. Investigators found that, "Officer Conrath quickly allowed persona communications to accelerate into policy violation." Investigators also found it inappropriate for Conrath to counsel the woman to leave her husband while moving towards a sexual relationship with her at the same time.
At the bottom of the findings letter sent to Officer Conrath, Chief Rick Dobrow writes, "Sound decision making and judgement are critical for members of law enforcement. Both of those traits were called into question in this incident. Please take this opportunity to learn from your mistake and never repeat this behavior."