February 24, 2012 in City

Woman’s 911 call prompts investigation of officer

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Edwards
(Full-size photo)

Another Spokane police officer is facing potential termination after using law enforcement resources to find the home address of a woman he’d met at a Spokane Valley bar, then showing up uninvited in the middle of the night.

Contacted by The Spokesman-Review, interim police Chief Scott Stephens, confirmed that he met Thursday with Senior Officer Alan D. Edwards and a union representative about the Dec. 15 encounter, which came to the department’s attention after the concerned woman called 911 and later lodged a complaint.

Stephens said he has decided how he wants to discipline Edwards but wants the city’s attorneys and human resources officials to review the matter before making his decision public.

“I will take appropriate action,” Stephens said. “My overriding concern is that I follow the employee’s right to due process.”

Edwards is the officer who just returned to the police force after spending nearly a year on paid leave while the Washington State Patrol investigated his ties to an unlicensed bounty hunter.

In that case, Edwards was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, but police officials ruled late last year that he violated department policy by engineering a ruse with two bail bondsmen in November 2009 to chase a fugitive into a home on Nora Avenue so that Edwards could search the home for stolen Cadillac wheels without a search warrant.

During that investigation, Edwards continued to draw his annual pay of $76,886 while not working for 10 months. After ruling he violated department policy, the department disciplined Edwards with a two-week unpaid suspension.

The new complaint arose shortly after he returned to the force. Edwards went to Sullivan Scoreboard Tavern in Spokane Valley on Dec. 15 and met a woman there, apparently while off duty. Stephens said Edwards clearly identified himself as a Spokane police officer at the bar as they talked.

The woman left the bar alone and went home. Sometime after midnight, Edwards arrived unannounced at her door. She then called 911.

“I can confirm that we did receive a complaint from a woman who claims that somebody showed up on her doorstep in the wee hours of the morning … who identified himself as a police officer,” Stephens said. “The 911 call was not about the conversation at the bar. That is troublesome.”

Stephens confirmed that Edwards called someone within the department to obtain the woman’s address that night. But Stephens would not identify the employee who provided the address.

“The incident itself was thoroughly investigated,” Stephens said. “The roles of the parties involved were clearly identified. At this point, the only officer facing potential disciplinary action is Officer Edwards.”

Stephens pointed out that the woman made no allegations that Edwards was drunk, disorderly or that he attempted to gain improper entry into her home. He said the probe found no evidence that any crime had occurred.

Mayor David Condon declined to comment until Stephens announces his decision about Edwards’ discipline. “The mayor likely will be willing to make a comment when this process is complete and becomes public,” city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said.

Based on how other disciplinary decisions have gone against the city, Stephens said he wants to take a cautious approach. He said he could announce Edwards’ discipline as early as Monday.

“I don’t want any disciplinary action I take subjected to somebody saying you violated due process,” he said. “I think we are seeing some of the backlash from that. I’m not trying to be evasive. I’m trying to weigh employees’ rights and my duty being responsible to the community.”

In the meantime, Edwards is again on paid leave. But Stephens didn’t place him there.

“He’s out on injury leave right now,” the chief said. “I think he hurt himself skiing.”

Get stories like this in a free daily email


Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus