Leaders of WSU Police Department retiring amid investigation of sexual misconduct by a fellow officer

PULLMAN, Wash – The top members of the WSU Police Department command staff are stepping down before being disciplined for how they handled allegations of sexual misconduct by another officer.

The university is investigating allegations WSU Police Sgt. Matt Kuhrt engaged in sexual activity while on duty.

Tuesday, the university announced Police Chief Bill Gardner, Assistant Chief Steve Hansen and Captain Mike Larsen announced their intent to retire in lieu of possible termination.

An investigation determined they did not properly report the allegations to the university.

The allegations first surfaced in December 2020 when the university said the command staff was notified about Kuhrt’s behavior through “third-hand allegations.”

“The officer had received information from a third party who initially advised of possible nonconsensual activity, but who contacted the officer again the next day to clarify that it had been consensual, though it occurred while Kuhrt was on duty,” the news release said.

The report included allegations of sexual activity in the presidential suite at Martin Stadium and the WSU observatory.

The report says the command staff was notified of the allegations but never reported it to the office of Compliance and Civil Rights or human resources at the time.

WSU says the police department did an internal investigation but could not locate a witness and determined there was not enough evidence to take substantial personnel action.

It wasn’t until March of this year that another officer notified the university.

Kuhrt has been on home assignment since that time. The university has not yet made a determination of findings in the case, but will work through the process with a Title IX hearing.

However, the university did find in July that the command staff who knew of the allegations “exhibited gross misconduct, incompetence and neglect of duty in their response to claims of sexual misconduct involving the officer.”

“These are positions of great public trust and WSU will not tolerate this kind of behavior nor the negligence of departmental command staff,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz in a news release Tuesday. “When university leadership recently became aware of these allegations and the questionable way they had been handled earlier within the department, we immediately initiated a full investigation.”

The university said all three members of the command staff announced their retirement before the formal disciplinary process was concluded and are helping to ensure an “orderly leadership transition.”

Retired Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins will serve as interim chief.