Spokane detective with ‘troubled work history’ fired
Spokane police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick fired Detective Jeff Harvey on Wednesday as a result of his alleged confrontation 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,” city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said.
Harvey is the former vice president of the Spokane Police Guild. Attempts made to reach Harvey, his attorney, Rob Cossey, and the guild president, Detective Ernie Wuthrich, were unsuccessful Thursday.
Mayor Mary Verner said that the decision was Kirkpatrick’s but that she “backs the chief’s decision.”
Harvey faces a gross misdemeanor charge of obstructing law enforcement stemming from his encounter with Fish and Wildlife Officer Dave Spurbeck, who responded Jan. 22 to a report of youths shooting after legal hours on Peone Road near Deadman Creek north of Spokane.
Spurbeck wrote that after pulling over Harvey’s pickup, Harvey refused to let him question youths in the vehicle and was extremely argumentative.
“The subject physically blocked me from contacting the occupants of the vehicle. I had to place him in an escort hold and physically moved him away from the vehicle,” Spurbeck wrote in a report. When he finally was able to question the youths, two of them admitted to shooting at 4:45 p.m., five minutes after legal shooting hours had ended, according to Spurbeck’s report.
Harvey had been on paid leave since February.
A Spokane Police Department internal investigation determined that Harvey failed to obey Spurbeck’s commands and attempted to hinder his investigation, according to Harvey’s termination letter.
The case is scheduled to go to trial in Spokane County District Court next month.
Harvey earned about $97,800 from the department in 2010, including $13,400 in overtime.
His 10-page termination letter, which was signed by Kirkpatrick and City Administrator Ted Danek and hand-delivered to Harvey’s home Wednesday, also details other discipline and negative evaluations during his 24 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. The altercation occurred when Harvey attempted to arrest a man for having an open container of alcohol. A police news release from 1987 said a backup officer told investigators that he saw Harvey repeatedly strike the man when he was “on his knees holding his arms in a defensive position and in no way threatening the officer,” according to a Spokesman-Review article.
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 who had recently been arrested for having an open container in public, according to a Spokesman-Review article.
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 termination letter said.
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.
“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 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.”