Knezovich wants to make it easier to fire deputies who break the law
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich wants to make it easier to fire deputies, and sheriffs around the state are agreeing with him. Representative Kevin Parker will sponsor the bill in the legislature this year. Parker says House leadership has told him it could be one of the highest profile bills of the legislative session.
The bill basically says if you’re an officer and break the law you can be fired. If you appeal it, an arbitrator can’t overturn it and give you your job back. The bill also states if officers lie on the job, they can be fired.
“If you engage in any illegal activity, that cannot be overturned by the arbitration process,” Rep. Kevin Parker from the 6th Legislative District said.
Parker hopes it will help restore Washington’s faith in law enforcement, by showing everyone is being held accountable.
“When this is a profession that the public dollars pay for and where public trust is paramount, we need to make sure that continues,” he said.
Spokane has seen examples of arbitrators giving deputies their jobs back after breaking the law. Deputy Travis Smith stopped a woman for a minor traffic infraction and ended up towing her car because her license was suspended.
“What happened was, the vehicle was seized, it was searched, and during the search the deputy stabbed a knife into the passenger seat of the vehicle which is a crime,” Sheriff Knezovich said in February 2011.
Sheriff Knezovich says Smith should have seized the brass knuckles, instead of using the weapon to commit malicious mischief. The woman didn’t press charges, but Smith was fired. This month, he was rehired.
Parker says the bill is to ensure the majority of law enforcement are not brought down by a few bad officers.
“As any profession, that one or two percent can hurt the reputation of the other 98 to 99 percent.”
Our attempt to contact the police guild and unions for their reaction on Sunday were not successful.
Parker’s still working out the details on what kind of lying would be fireable, so there won’t be any kind of grey area.