February 29, 2012 in City, News

Spokane police officer fired after woman’s 911 call

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Spokane Police Department photo

Spokane police Officer Alan Edwards
(Full-size photo)

A senior Spokane police officer has been fired for misusing city equipment to obtain the home address of a woman he met at a bar.

Alan D. Edwards, 47, had recently returned to the police force from an unrelated suspension when the new complaint was lodged, this time after a woman called 911 in the pre-dawn hours of Dec. 16 reporting someone at her door.

It turned out to be Edwards, whom she’d met several hours earlier while at the Sullivan Scoreboard tavern in Spokane Valley.

Edwards, who was off duty, contacted an on-duty officer and said he was investigating a theft and needed the woman’s address. He told the officer, whose name has not been released, he was at a bar when the woman stole his friend’s credit card. But police say Edwards was not investigating a crime - he simply wanted information about the woman for personal purposes. He also identified himself as an officer to the woman while at the bar, police say.

“At no time did you advise the Officer that this information was for your own use and not for a legitimate law enforcement purpose,” according to a termination letter sent Wednesday to Edwards by Interim Police Chief Scott Stephens. “After you obtained the information, you went to the woman’s home at 3:00 a.m. on December 16, 2011 to make contact with her.”

Edwards, a 21-year veteran who is married, is fired effective March 1.

“We…must hold our officers to a higher standard than the behavior exhibited,” Stephens said in a prepared statement. “It is our priority to show citizens of Spokane that this behavior will not be tolerated.”

Stephens told The Spokesman-Review today that Edwards was “a hardworking cop.”

“I wouldn’t want the 20-plus years that he provided here to be ignored,” Stephens said. “He did some really good work…It’s just unfortunate that it came to this.”

Edwards didn’t work for 10 months last year but continued to earn his yearly $76,886 salary during a criminal probe involving his interactions with bail bondsmen and an unlicensed bounty hunter who are facing criminal charges for allegedly unlawfully entering homes and detaining suspects.

Edwards was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing but was found to have violated departmental policy by engineering an improper “ruse” to gain otherwise illegal entry to a Spokane home in 2009 while searching for stolen property. He was suspended without pay for two weeks.

Former City Administrator Ted Danek said in a letter of reprimand to Edwards last year that it is “a widely acknowledged fact that you are an exceptionally active officer.”

When public defender Kari Reardon, who often challenges police actions in court, learned Edwards was under investigation in the bondsmen case, she contacted detectives and said she thought he was an honest officer.

She told investigators of an evidence suppression hearing in which Edwards testified.

“Ms. Reardon indicated that she found Ofc. Edwards to be truthful and candid even though his testimony was detrimental to the prosecution’s case,” according to court documents.

Stephens said he considered community values, the current complaint against Edwards as well as his employment history when deciding to terminate his employment.

Stephens met last week with Edwards and a Spokane Police Guild representative to discuss the Dec. 15 allegation.

The woman said Edwards immediately left when she asked him to leave, Stephens said. She called 911 to complain about the incident and said the man was an officer. Edwards was gone by the time police arrived, Stephens said.

Julie Fisher told The Spokesman-Review she was working as a waitress at Sullivan Scoreboard the night Edwards came in. She described his actions as “crazy.”

Fisher said in a posting online that Edwards made advances on almost every woman in the business. She said she found him in the women’s bathroom harassing “a woman trying to use the toilet” at closing time.

Fisher said she screamed at Edwards “to get the hell out.”

Edwards’ lawyer, Chris Bugbee, said he was not involved in this case but is sad that Edwards lost his job.

“I like Alan,” Bugbee said. “He was one of the hardest working cops in that department.”

Staff writer Thomas Clouse contributed to this report

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