Local news

Regional security overseer fired

SATURDAY, NOV. 8, 2008

Coordinator, arrested for DWI, violated sheriff’s ‘rules, regulations’

David L. Byrnes, the Homeland Security coordinator for 10 Eastern Washington counties, was fired from his $87,000-a-year job last week, three weeks after being arrested for drunk driving in Stevens County.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezvoich confirmed Friday that he fired Byrnes Oct. 30 “for violating Sheriff’s Office rules and regulations.”

Court records show the 64-year-old official was arrested Oct. 8 for driving while intoxicated in Stevens County.

Knezovich confirmed that the arrest, followed by an internal affairs investigation by the Sheriff’s Office, led to Byrnes’ termination.

Byrnes was arrested Oct. 6 by Stevens County sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Wakeman. Details leading to the arrest, including whether Byrnes volunteered to give a breath-alcohol reading, couldn’t be obtained Friday. Stevens County Sheriff Craig Thayer wasn’t available and other commanders in his office didn’t return a phone call.

Byrnes was driving his personal vehicle when he was arrested, Knezovich said. He pleaded not guilty to the DWI charge on Oct. 27 and is awaiting a trial date, court records show.

“He did a very good job for the citizens of Spokane County and the region,” the sheriff said of Brynes. “I appreciate the hard work he did for the agency. This is a tough one.”

It was the second time in two years that Byrnes has been arrested for DWI, court filings show. He was arrested Feb. 23, 2007, in Spokane County, but a month later that charge was reduced to reckless endangerment. Details of that case, including an apparent plea bargain, couldn’t be obtained Friday.

As Homeland Security coordinator, Byrnes oversaw the distribution of more than $16 million in grants to Spokane, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln, Adams, Whitman, Columbia, Garfield and Asotin counties.

His Spokane office also coordinates Homeland Security training sessions with officials in Kootenai, Bonner and Boundary counties in North Idaho.

Byrnes did not return a message seeking comment left at his South Hill home. Before becoming Homeland Security coordinator for Region 9 in Washington, Byrnes was the assistant director of Spokane’s city-county Department of Emergency Services. Prior to that, he worked as a Spokane Fire Department paramedic.

Don MacSparran, the Homeland Security section manager in the state’s Emergency Management Division, confirmed Friday that state officials were notified by e-mail on Tuesday of Byrnes’ termination.

“The only information we were given is he was terminated for violating Sheriff’s Office rules and regulations,” MacSparran said.

Bill Morlin can be reached at (509) 459-5444 or billm@spokesman.com.

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