Document request cut off after news report
A public disclosure request for information from police documents made a few weeks ago by police officer Sean Cook has been discontinued at his own request, The Star learned this week.
A request the Grand Coulee officer made recently had the police administration and officers pouring through some 13,000 reports looking for any evidence of force used by officers and a variety of other things.
Cook asked that the search of documents be at least temporarily discontinued. The request came a day after the newspaper reported on the search that had the department on its heels and consuming scores of hours of time. Police Chief Mel Hunt had personally put in over 40 hours of time prior to Feb. 1.
The search became complicated when officers going through boxes of reports ran into mold. Several officers got sick and union representatives advised the city that they would no longer search through moldy reports.
Mold was due to a leaky roof over the records area.
This required the city to hire a firm equipped to handle contamination to get involved in dealing with the moldy reports.
Because of the nature of the document request, it would be necessary for members of the police department to look through some eight years of reports. Police said they routinely handle about 1,700 reports a year.
Cook’s requests also covered requests from any state or federal agency for information on his pay or hours worked and requests for information on his K-9 bomb dog.
Morale in the department has been on a steady decline and Mayor Chris Christopherson has involved himself. He ordered Hunt to change his shift schedule and has ordered Sgt. John Tufts back on patrol.
Since 2000, as a city department head, Hunt had worked four 10-hour shifts a week, the same as the city clerk.
Tufts had, until the mayor’s order, been in charge of records and of the day-by-day activity of the various officers.
The chief has been ordered to not schedule himself in the police department’s contracted Bureau of Reclamation coverage, and now mans the department office and handles the reporting function. Mayor Christopherson is also budget director at the Bureau of Reclamation’s Grand Coulee Dam.
Also, The Star has learned that any concerns expressed about Chief Hunt or officers Adam Hunt or Cook are to be referred to Mayor Pro-tem Paul Townsend. The mayor and Cook have been close friends for a number of years.
Some of the police relationships became a topic in closed executive session at the council’s last meeting, Feb. 5. The city had its attorneys from the Wenatchee firm of Ogden, Murphy, and Wallace attend. The executive session was scheduled to last 45 minutes, but three 30-minute extensions were added.
The city and Chief Hunt have each engaged legal counsel to help in dealing with the conflicts between the city and the police department.