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Wapato hires police chief fired from Zillah

By Phil Ferolito Yakima Herald-Republic, Wash.

WAPATO, Wash. – Three days after being fired, longtime Zillah police Chief Dave Simmons has been hired to lead the Wapato Police Department.

Simmons, who had been with the Zillah department 26 years, including the past 10 years as chief, was fired without cause on Tuesday, according to a separation agreement obtained by the Yakima Herald-Republic.

On Friday afternoon, Wapato Mayor Tony Guzman said he hired Simmons to run the 15-person department with nine police officers and six correction officers.

Details behind his termination from Zillah, where he oversaw seven police officers, are unclear.

The separation agreement signed by Mayor Gary Clark said the termination would be described as a resignation to city employees.

On Friday morning, Zillah City Administrator Sharon Bounds said Simmons had resigned. Clark also described Simmons’ departure as a resignation Friday, and wished him well in Wapato.

Under the Zillah agreement, Simmons would receive 10 weeks of severance pay and an additional $26,500 in pay if he signs the agreement before Nov. 1, and does not revoke it within seven days thereafter.

In Wapato, Simmons will earn $79,310 a year; in Zillah he was paid an annual salary of $70,445.

After heading the Wapato department for 1 1/2 years, Rick Needham resigned in late August because his wife did not want to move to the area, Guzman said.

Needham, from Alamosa, Colorado, was hired in Wapato in February 2015. Neither Needham nor Simmons could immediately be reached for comment.

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