TACOMA -- The top state and federal law enforcement officials in Washington announced today that an extensive investigation at Tacoma Police Department found no grounds for criminal charges but abundant evidence of troubling management issues in the agency.
Download the letter to County Prosecutor here.
Pierce County Prosecutor Gerald Horne asked for the review following Tacoma Police Chief David Brame's murder of his wife, Crystal, and his suicide on April 26, 2003.
Washington State Patrol Chief Ronal Serpas said his staff spent more than 6,600 hours on the case, interviewed more than 80 individuals, and generated more than 6,000 pages of documentation and 165 pieces of evidence.
"The goal in our investigation was to find the truth," Serpas said. "Investigators followed every lead and every piece of evidence known to them."
Prosecutors from the Attorney General's Office and King County Prosecutor's Office reviewed the evidence for possible violations of state criminal laws.
One focus of the investigation was allegations of criminal behavior by Assistant Chief Catherine Woodard. While Woodard's actions didn't rise to the level of criminal violations, "she demonstrated extraordinarily poor judgment and there is sufficient evidence of misconduct to justify an internal review," Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire said.
"The lack of sufficient evidence to support criminal charges against Woodard or others by no means indicates all is well with management at the Tacoma Police Department," Gregoire said. "The evidence paints a picture of a very troubled management culture."
A report to Horne on findings of the investigation outlines examples of misconduct, poor judgment, troublesome behavior by top officers, lax accountability, and a failure to have in place critical policies to deal with some of the most sensitive issues facing the department.
Gregoire added that the report should not be viewed as an indictment of the rank and file officers in the department. "They do their jobs well and put their lives on the line everyday. This is about management of the department."
The report to Horne also includes six recommendations to address the issues found during the investigation. The recommendations suggest:
- A thorough and objective internal review of all matters - including potential misconduct -- uncovered in the investigation;
- Use of the State Patrol for the internal review;
- Development of clear and consistent policies about when the department should treat internal complaints as criminal matters;
- A review by the State Auditor of department payroll and timekeeping procedures;
- A detailed review of errors made in the hiring and promotion of Brame and development of a policy to ensure the errors are not repeated.
Adoption of protocols and procedures, with community participation, to guide the department on domestic violence complaints when the alleged abuser is a police officer.
While state officials said they found no violations of state criminal laws, United States Attorney for Western Washington John McKay indicated the federal probe is continuing. McKay said an internal affairs review could continue at the same time as the federal investigation.
In addition to looking at allegations of criminal conduct, the investigation was intended to point out needed administrative reforms. "The management culture at the Tacoma Police Department needs an overhaul, and these recommendations should provide a roadmap for reform that line officers and the people deserve," Gregoire said.