Police Chief violated Municipal Code, says City Attorney Howe
TONASKET- The Tonasket Civil Service Commission held a special meeting today, Dec. 17, to discuss the sudden termination of Chief Darin Odegaard and Reserve Officer John Cruz by Mayor Dennis Brown. Since that time, however, Mayor Brown has decided to reinstate Odegaard.
Following this most recent action, at 11 a.m. this morning, Mayor Dennis Brown met with Odegaard and Cruz. Brown asked Attorney Michael Howe to address the issues the city was having within the police department.
“We informed the two of them they were terminated and will provide letters of termination,” said Howe at the meeting.
According to Howe, Cruz was terminated for three reasons; working in violation of the Tonasket municipal code, working beyond the acting appointment which violated local civil service rules and working full time plus many hours of overtime without proper training and the commission that is required by Washington State Law.
Odegaard, who has only served Tonasket’s Police Department since July 9, 2018, was terminated for permitting, facilitating and directing a limited commissioned Officer, John Cruz, to serve on a full time basis with full knowledge that his status was not that of a specially commissioned police officer, who by definition of the RCW could not work full time for an agency, according to Howe.
In addition, according to the city’s attorney, Odegaard was terminated for assigning full time work to an officer and permitting and approving his full time hours and overtime hours to the city’s payroll clerk for payment, in violation of Tonasket Municipal Code 2.12.
Finally, Odegaard allowed Officer Cruz to work beyond the expiration of his four-month acting appointment in violation of Tonasket Civil Service rules.
Mayor Brown has not returned calls for more information on Monday’s events, but Attorney Howe has confirmed that Tonasket’s mayor has since decided to reinstate the town’s police chief, but the officer will be docked two week’s pay.
For more details see this Thursday’s Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune print edition.