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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Chewelah terminates police chief

Chewelah Police Chief Ryan Pankey in January 2021.  (Brandon Hansen/The Chewelah Independent)

The city of Chewelah announced Wednesday its decision to fire Police Chief Ryan Pankey based on the results of a third-party investigation into allegations that have yet to be made public.

The four-month investigation into allegations of misconduct during his time as police chief concluded on Sept. 2, but findings were not publicly released while Pankey and his attorney were given an opportunity to respond.

After a hearing on Sept. 15, Pankey submitted a written response to the “allegations about his performance” on Sept. 23, a city news release said.

Upon review, Chewelah Mayor Greg McCunn decided to terminate Pankey’s employment “for cause” and sent him a letter explaining the reasons.

“Although it was a difficult decision because of his years of service, it was the best decision for the City,” the release said. “Although the allegations concerning Mr. Pankey’s time as Police Chief ranged from serious to less so, the overall concern was that there was a pattern of serious lapses in judgment during his short term as Police Chief.”

The Chewelah Civil Service Commission will review the matter and issue its findings.

At that point, Pankey will be entitled to request a public appeal hearing before the commission.

Pankey has been on paid administrative leave since May 3. He has served with the department since 2000 and was sworn in as chief in January 2021.

Sgt. David Watts, chief of the Chewelah Fire Department, is also serving as the interim police chief.

James Hanlon's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.