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Guild supports Wallace against sheriff

The Island County Sheriff’s Guild has filed a grievance against Sheriff Hawley for firing Deputy Jay Wallace last week, claiming that Hawley’s decision was “not supported by the demonstrated facts and is too severe for the conduct that has occurred.”

Wallace is one of four Republican candidates running for sheriff. In a July 1 memo, Hawley announced that he wasn’t running again and wouldn’t endorse a candidate.

Monday, Hawley released the reports of the lengthy internal investigation into Wallace’s conduct, CD recordings of conversations with 911 dispatchers and other paperwork. The information reveals apparent inconsistencies in what Wallace said to dispatchers on the night of Feb. 7 and what he later claimed to have occurred.

In addition, it turns out that the incident wasn’t the first time Wallace was accused of inappropriately responding to calls.

Hawley claims Wallace shirked his duty by not adequately responding to 911 calls from a woman who was allegedly beaten, sexually assaulted and held against her will at a Freeland home on the night of Feb. 7 and morning of Feb. 8. He violated policy by not making physical contact with the caller and not responding at all to the second call.

Moreover, Wallace was dishonest in his written statements about the incident, the internal investigation states.

“He was either being dishonest on the call line or he was being dishonest in his report,” Hawley said.

Wallace, on the other hand, continued to deny that he did anything wrong. He said he was absolutely truthful in his reports.

“I heard on TV that Hawley called me a liar. He said I wasn’t fit to be a dog catcher,” Wallace said. “I would put my police record next to his record any day.”

Wallace claims that the allegations against him were a result of Hawley’s campaign to discredit and slander him, which he said began last fall. He said Hawley’s motives are political. Specifically, he claims Hawley doesn’t want him to become the next sheriff.

“Mike (Hawley) is supporting another candidate,” Wallace said. “He’s been grooming his candidate. He wants to keep control.”

Nonetheless, two investigators — one in the sheriff’s office and one of the Oak Harbor Police Department — found that Wallace may have violated policy, or even broken the law.

Oak Harbor Police Sgt. Jerry Baker conducted a separate criminal investigation and found evidence of “possible criminal conduct by Deputy Jay Wallace” for “making false of misleading statements to a public servant,” according to the offense report.

“Deputy Wallace’s written report is inconsistent with the ICOM radio log and the information provided by other witnesses,” Baker wrote. “Deputy Wallace also appears to berate the reported victim in his report.”

Rosalyn DiIorio, a prosecutor in the state Attorney General’s Office, hasn’t decided whether or not to charge Wallace with a crime in connection with the incident. She said she’ll likely make a decision in early May.

Island County prosecutors dismissed charges against 26-year-old Matthew Friar, the man who allegedly assaulted the 25-year-old woman and held her against her will. Prosecutors made the decision partly because of the discrepancies between Wallace’s report on the incident and reports by detectives. Also, the victim disappeared.

The most glaring inconsistency has to do with the gender of the person Wallace claims he saw when he responded to the call. In Wallace’s statement on the incident, dated Feb. 8 but written days later, Wallace claims he saw a naked woman inside the house. He wrote that he made eye contact with her, but she ran and hid from him.

But that night, Wallace referred to the person he saw as a male in his conversations with dispatchers, according to 911 recordings. Wallace called the person inside the house “a guy” and referred to the individual as “he” or “him” nine additional times.

“I couldn’t believe it when I pulled into the driveway and the guy ran into the living room, threw on a pair of pants and ran back into the bedroom,” Wallace said to a dispatcher in the early morning of Jan. 8.

In an interview Tuesday, Wallace claimed that it was just a “Freudian slip.” He said he spoke to the neighbor woman about a man she had seen at the house and he “just picked it up from the woman.”

Yet the neighbor woman said Wallace told her he had seen a man in the house and he never mentioned a woman, according to Baker’s report.

Wallace also blames inadequately-trained dispatchers for the problems. The 911 system recorded a threatening background voice before the dispatcher answered, but the dispatcher hadn’t been trained to listen to the recording.

“Had this key information been provided, Mr. Wallace would have known that he had a reason to possibly force entry into the caller’s residence and investigate the call as a serious problem,” Wallace wrote in a press release.

According to a Aug. 11, 2005, memorandum, the Sheriff’s Office had questioned Wallace previously about his response to calls. Lt. Evan Tingstad asked Wallace to explain four incidents in which his “actions could be serious violations of our department’s ‘Mission and Policies’.”

On Aug. 6, Wallace was dispatched to a report of a suicidal person 20 minutes before his shift ended. Instead of responding to the scene, he called the reporting party, had no contact with the suicidal subject, cleared the call as “no police action required” and ended his shift.

“About two hours later, the situation escalated, involving a major response and operational crisis for this department,” Tingstad wrote.

Wallace said this was just another example of Hawley’s campaign to discredit him.

“It was complete hogwash, another setup because I was running for sheriff,” he said. He explained that in the suicide case he had handed the information over to another deputy before he went off duty.

In an April 11 letter to Hawley, the deputy sheriffs guild attorney initiated a formal grievance, asking Hawley to reinstate Wallace with back pay and benefits. Wallace plans to appeal his case to the county’s Civil Service Commission.

This Saturday, the four sheriff’s candidates will get a chance to speak at the Island County Republican Party’s convention. Chairman Andy Valrosa said the delegates will vote to “qualify” each candidate as a Republican candidate. A candidate must get votes from at least 25 percent of the delegates to qualify, though delegates may vote for more than one candidate for a given office.

Besides Wallace, Island County Chief Deputy William “De” Dennis, Coupeville Marshal Lenny Marlborough and retired state trooper Mark Brown are running for sheriff.

If the Republicans don’t want him, Wallace said he will probably run as an independent.

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