Editorial: Let deputy tell his story

A 911 controversy should be quickly cleared up by the Island County Sheriff’s Office for the sake of openness in the election process.

Deputy Jay Wallace, a veteran lawman in both Island County and California, is under investigation for allegedly not properly following procedure when a woman in apparent distress made two 911 calls from Freeland.

Sheriff Mike Hawley claims Wallace did not make contact with the woman on the first call, which is against departmental policy. Police are supposed to make contact to assure the caller is okay. On the second call, Wallace allegedly did not even respond. Later, a man was arrested and charged with harassment, assault and unlawful imprisonment.

What makes this different than the usual in-house disciplinary process is that Jay Wallace is a candidate for Island County Sheriff. Hawley ordered Wallace not to talk about the incident until an internal investigation is complete. Wallace’s wife suggested there are two sides to the story, however, saying her husband would be “completely exonerated” when “the true facts are known.”

The fact that Wallace is a candidate for political office should compel the Sheriff’s Office to shift the investigation into high gear, or even let Wallace make a public statement immediately. The public would like to hear his side of the story, and if it sounds reasonable his candidacy for sheriff might be salvaged. Wallace’s 10-year history with the Island County Sheriff’s Office, coupled with a long career as a supervisor with the San Francisco Police Department, makes him a viable candidate in what to date is a four-man race to replace Hawley.

It would be too bad to see Wallace’s political aspirations ended by an investigation that is needlessly slow, with no consideration given to the political aspects of the case. The sooner the public hears Wallace’s explanation for his response to those 911 calls, the better for everyone involved — including the public.

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