Deputy arrested

An Island County Sheriff’s deputy is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation of his arrest on domestic violence charges Saturday.

Sheriff Mike Hawley said Deputy Mike Birchfield, 45, is a 10-year veteran of the department. It’s the first time a deputy has been charged with domestic violence in Hawley’s eight years heading the department, he said.

Birchfield is accused of abusing his wife, a dispatcher for ICOM. The arrest was made by Oak Harbor Police, who investigated at the request of the Sheriff’s Office.

Oak Harbor Police Captain Rick Wallace said the Sheriff’s Office asked for assistance at 12:20 p.m. Saturday, and a police officer and deputy met at the 3500 block of Wilson Road in Oak Harbor. “They determined there was reason to believe domestic violence against a spouse,” Wallace said. “There was sufficient cause to believe there were two crimes.”

Birchfield was arrested on charges of fourth degree assault and interfering with the reporting of a crime. He was booked into Oak Harbor city jail and arraigned by telephone Saturday night. Telephone arraignments are done over the weekend when a judge is not available. Birchfield was released that night on his personal recognizance.

Wallace said Birchfield’s spouse showed abrasions and bruising on her arms, hand, and the back of her head. She was driven to Whidbey General Hospital by private vehicle, treated and released.

Hawley said Birchfield faces a two-track investigation, one on the criminal charges and another internal investigation to determine if he violated any departmental policies. Outside agencies will conduct both investigations,’ he said.

Birchfield’s job could be in jeopardy, particularly if he is found guilty of fourth degree assault. If that happened he would lose the right to carry a firearm. “He would likely lose his job over the situation,” Hawley said.

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