Tonasket officer fired

TONASKET — Tonasket Police officer John Cruz apparently was terminated Monday, Dec. 17, following a Civil Service Commission meeting.

City attorney Mick Howe said Cruz was terminated for allegedly working in violation of the city's municipal code, working beyond his acting appointment, and working full-time plus overtime without proper training.

Cruz declined to comment on his alleged termination, but said “the police are safe.”

Initially, police Chief Darin Odegaard was terminated, too, but Mayor Dennis Brown revoked the termination and instead will discipline Odegaard with two weeks off without pay, according to Howe.

As this story went to press Monday, city officials reportedly were in a meeting discussing the matter further.

Brown declined to comment and hung up the phone when contacted by The Chronicle.

Council member and public safety committee member Christa Levine also declined to comment.

“I think it’s a decision that had to be made,” Howe said Monday.

Howe said he encountered both Odegaard and Cruz at a recent civil service commission meeting where questions were allegedly asked of Howe and “a ton of red flags went up.”

Howe said Cruz allegedly was expelled from the police academy.

He said Cruz reports to Odegaard, and Odegaard reports to the mayor.

“The chief knew his (Cruz’s) status,” Howe said, noting Cruz allegedly worked more than 70 hours per week and “can’t be working legally as a full-time officer.”

According to state law RCW 43.101.080: “All law enforcement personnel, except volunteers, and reserve officers whether paid or unpaid, initially employed on or after Jan. 31, 1978, shall engage in basic law enforcement training which complies with standards adopted by the commission pursuant to RCW 43.101.080.”

The Tonasket City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8, at City Hall, 209 S. Whitcomb Ave. The public is invited to attend.

Editor’s note: As this is a developing story, this page will be updated as information becomes available.


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