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Spokane police detective fired for ‘troubled history’

UPDATED: Thu., July 14, 2011, 1:03 p.m.

Jeff Harvey of the Spokane Police Department (Spokane Police Department)
Jeff Harvey of the Spokane Police Department (Spokane Police Department)

Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick fired Detective Jeff Harvey on Wednesday as a result of an alleged confrontation Harvey had with a state Fish and Wildlife officer and what his termination letter labeled a “troubled work history.”

The incident was “part of the pattern of behavior that (the department) had documented over the years with this particular employee,” said city spokeswoman Marlene Feist.

Harvey is the former vice president of the Spokane Police Guild.

Mayor Mary Verner said she “backs the chief’s decision.”

Havey’s termination letter was hand-delivered to his home, Feist said.

A department internal investigation into the confrontation with the Fish and Wildlife officer determined that Harvey failed to obey the officer’s commands and attempted to hinder his investigation, according to Harvey’s termination letter.

The 10-page letter also details other discipline and negative evaluations from supervisors that Harvey was given in his 24 years in the department.

In 1987, Harvey was suspended for 20 days for “excessive use of force and demeanor” after breaking a man’s arm. He was suspended that same year for harassment.

He was given an oral reprimand in 1989 for excessive force.

In 1991, he was suspended for 40 hours for abusing sick leave.

“After you were denied a requested day off because of short staffing, you called in sick and went hunting,” the letter said.

In 1993, he was suspended for five days for making false allegations about a supervisor.

Since then, the outline lists mostly negative comments from supervisors in reviews.

“Jeff is a competent investigator and is capable of producing a superior work product,” wrote Sgt. Dan Torok in 2009. “However, this fact is sometimes overshadowed by what appears to be an overreaction to some issues.”

Last year, Torok wrote that he had concerns about Harvey’s “overall demeanor.”

“My question was in regards to his attitude and seemingly displeasure with being here,” Torok wrote. “…I do not see this situation resolving itself, and the unresolved issues cannot be healthy.”

Harvey was a vice president of the guild when the group held a vote of no-confidence in the chief last year. A majority of voters, though not of guild members, agreed to give Kirkpatrick and Assistant Chief Jim Nicks the no-confidence label.

Verner said Harvey’s termination is about his own actions as an employee, not a union member.

“When we take personnel decisions, we take them based on the employee’s behavior in the workplace,” Verner said.

The termination letter indicates that some leaders in the department felt that Harvey was cut more slack because he was in the leadership of the guild.

“Often times Jeff discusses issues in the department in a manner that is afforded a union representative that would be frowned upon if it were any other detective,” Torok wrote in 2009. “An example is his severe criticism of the administration, a policy, certain members of senior staff, etc.”