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Tuesday, October 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Senior Wapato police officers warn city residents about actions that forced their resignations

UPDATED: Thu., Sept. 20, 2018, 10:36 a.m.

 (Wapato Police Department)
(Wapato Police Department)
By Kaitlin Bain Yakima Herald-Republic

Three senior Wapato police officers have resigned, citing “personal ethical standards and conscience.”

In a letter addressed to the “citizens of Wapato,” the officers, including seven others who previously left the force, say now-city administrator Juan Orozco has “threatened, harassed and intimidated” employees of the Wapato Police Department. He also has, according to the letter, used police officers to intimidate council members and city residents.

This is the full letter addressed to Wapato citizens

“Mayor Orozco’s attempt to utilize members of the Wapato Police Department as his ‘personal enforcers’ is reminiscent of the days of old when corruption and graft were the norm rather than the rule of law,” the letter says.

The Yakima Herald-Republic has reached out to Orozco for a comment about the letter.

The letter also accuses Orozco of making false statements about employees, citizens, business owners and others on social media or to other people; used police officers against those who don’t support him; and signed a seven-year contract as city administrator that appeared to have been created “behind closed doors and without input or comment from the citizens of Wapato,” among other claims.

As a result, police officers and other employees who have resigned or left the police department feel they have been forced to make unethical decisions and the ability to honor their oath of office has been placed in jeopardy, the letter said.

The Wapato Police Department is now staffed only with one sergeant, who is the acting chief, one detective, two full-time police officers and one temporary provisional officer, according to the letter. One of the full-time officers and the provisional officer haven’t been to the police academy and shouldn’t be working with direct supervision.

Since Orozco has taken office, the Wapato Police Department, has lost 14 employees, including five full-time police offices, one police sergeant, six full-time corrections officers and two support staff members. Some of the corrections officers left when the jail was closed.

“The officers and employees that have resigned or been separated from the city would like to thank the previous administration and citizens of Wapato for allowing us to serve them for such a long time,” the letter says. “The experience was tremendous and none of us can even begin to describe how much we have learned while working for the city of Wapato.”

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