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Wenatchee Police Department short-staffed after police shootings

UPDATED: Mon., June 20, 2022

By Pete O’Cain Wenatchee World

WENATCHEE – With five officers off-duty following police shootings May 7 and June 4, the Wenatchee Police Department says to expect longer response times to 911 calls.

“It’s challenging. It means we’re running patrol at minimum staffing every day,” said Capt. Edgar Reinfeld. “It means that people are waiting longer to get a response from the police department.”

The department has 41 commissioned officers, 28 of whom are assigned to patrol duty. But through a combination of administrative leave, injuries and reassignment, only about 20 are currently working patrol duty.

Four are on administrative leave as standard procedure due to their involvement in the June 4 killing of Zachary C. Rutherford. One officer is recovering from an injury sustained in the May 7 killing of Alexander J. White.

“We just ask people to be patient with us as we run short-staffed as we work through these issues,” Reinfeld said.

The officers involved in the June 4, which occurred in the afternoon, were part of the same shift.

“We have reassigned some personnel to that shift to balance our staffing and to be able to continue to provide the service that we do every day,” Reinfeld. Some officers are also working overtime.

The officers who killed White were cleared by the department to return to duty after an administrative investigation found they didn’t violate department policy. This investigation was separate from the ongoing criminal investigation led by the North Central Washington Special Investigation Unit.

A similar administrative investigation is expected in the June 4 shooting, and if the officers acted within policy, they could be cleared to return to duty, Reinfeld said.

The special investigation unit is also investigating Rutherford’s death. Their findings will be sent to Chelan County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Sealby, who’ll determine whether to file criminal charges against the officers.

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