A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy was fired Jan. 24 after multiple investigations into allegations of criminal misconduct and poor work performance revealed a pattern of bad behavior.
“If you’re a law enforcement officer, you shouldn’t be committing crimes,” said Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
The latest internal investigation of former Deputy Travis Smith’s behavior began last year after Smith stuck a knife into someone’s seat while searching their vehicle.
He had initiated a routine traffic stop and, after finding some marijuana, obtained a search warrant for the vehicle and seized it. A search the next day turned up brass knuckles with a three- to four-inch knife blade attached and a bandana with a swastika on it.
Smith pierced the bandana on the antenna and stuck the knife blade in the passenger seat.
“That’s committing two crimes in uniform,” Knezovich said. “You don’t get to do that. That’s a huge break in public trust.”
Smith admitted responsibility for damaging the property and said he did it because he thought it was “funny,” according to a sheriff’s office internal memo.
The victim did not want to press charges for the two counts of third-degree malicious mischief.
Smith was also fired for failing to write complete reports, “which reflects a pattern of behavior,” the memo said. Three complaints were filed against Smith in just four months, Knezovich said.
In 2010, three sheriff’s office employees were fired and six resigned in lieu of termination. So far this year, Smith has been fired and one person has resigned in lieu of termination.
Last year there were 74 complaints filed in the sheriff’s office, which has 578 employees working in law enforcement and at the Spokane County Jail and Geiger Corrections Center. Of those complaints, more than half were generated internally. After investigations, 44 of the complaints were dismissed.
“If you’re working for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and you have this type of behavior, you won’t work for us,” he said. “I won’t tolerate it.”