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Fired detective files $10 million claim

Fri., July 15, 2011, 3:16 p.m.

Fired Spokane police Detective Jeff Harvey and his attorney filed a $10 million claim against the city today, arguing that police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick terminated him because he spoke out against the chief’s policies as the vice president of the Spokane Police Guild.

“Chief Kirkpatrick has for some time expressed her retaliatory desire/intent to terminate Detective Harvey’s 24-year law enforcement career due to his ongoing vocal opposition to her disparate and unlawful treatment of union members,” Harvey’s attorney, Bob Dunn, wrote in the tort claim.

City officials announced this week that Harvey had been terminated as a result of criminal charges following a confrontation with a state Fish and Wildlife officer and what his termination letter called “a troubled work history.”

The city placed Harvey on paid leave in February following a Jan. 22 incident in which Fish and Wildlife Officer Dave Spurbeck said he had to physically move Harvey away from his vehicle as Harvey tried to prevent Spurbeck from questioning youths regarding a report of shooting after hours.

In the tort claim, Dunn attacked the investigation that resulted in the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office charging Harvey with a gross misdemeanor as “the negligent investigation of spurious and contrived off-duty charges against him … and the subsequent improper, highly prejudicial, and biased investigation and hearing conducted without due process by Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, as well as her numerous violations of City and Police Policy and Procedure.”

Harvey’s criminal case is due to go to trial in Spokane County District Court on Aug. 22.

Neither Harvey nor Kirkpatrick could immediately be reached for comment today.

In his 10-page termination letter, which was signed by Kirkpatrick and City Administrator Ted Danek and hand-delivered to Harvey’s home Wednesday, city officials documented other discipline and negative evaluations during Harvey’s years in the department.

In 1987, Harvey was suspended for 20 days without pay for “excessive use of force and demeanor” after breaking a man’s arm. Harvey was suspended that same year for one day for harassment in connection to complaints made by two other citizens, according to a Spokesman-Review article.

He was given an oral reprimand in 1989 after eight employees at the Spokane County Juvenile Detention Facility complained that Harvey and two other officers used excessive force against a 17-year-old boy.

In 1991, the city suspended him for 40 hours for abusing sick leave. In 1993, he was suspended for five days for making false allegations about a supervisor. Since then, the letter outlines mostly negative comments from supervisors in reviews.

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.

Mayor Mary Verner, earlier this week, said Harvey’s termination is a result of his actions as an employee, not as a union member.

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

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

“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.”

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