Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960

 

Officer Wellington still working at LSPD despite jokes about scaring co-worker

 

February 5, 2013



BY PAM STEVENS | MANAGING EDITOR

Officer James Wellington, 39, has been the focus of at least six internal investigations within the Lake Stevens Police Department since 2009.

Within the hundreds of pages of investigation reports it was found that Wellington was being investigated in 2012 for multiple allegations including showing up for work smelling of alcohol, abusing his sick leave, being prosecuted in a hotel in Yellowstone National Park for a drunken disturbance, using his police uniform allowance to buy a handgun, for allegedly sending a threatening email to co-workers regarding City Administrator Jan Berg and for speaking untruths.

The Journal received the information through the public records laws on Friday, February 1.

After the incident in a Yellowstone Hotel on August 13, 2012 where U.S. Park Rangers were called after guests alleged that Wellington and a woman were arguing loudly, Wellington agreed to a Breathalyzer test where he blew a .237 blood alcohol level, the investigation reports.

It also states that Wellington made several comments regarding the fact that he was a police officer, even handing the Rangers his police department identification.

Wellington was cited for disorderly conduct and paid the fine. Wellington was already on paid administrative leave, according to documents.

In October, Lake Stevens Mayor Vern Little sent Wellington a letter letting him know that the conduct reported in Yellowstone was cause for termination. They agreed to meet with the officer the next month to discuss the situation.

“The City has to evaluate and review the IA (internal affairs) and recommendations with legal counsel and make careful decisions based upon assessment of the various options available to the City and legal rights of the employee including civil service and collective bargaining rights among others,” Little said in a statement. “As a result of such review and consideration, and as a part of progressive discipline principles, Officer Wellington received consequential discipline and returned to his employment with the City of Lake Stevens.”

After discussing the matter with city attorney it was decided that Wellington would stay on the job for now but will be closely monitored.

“His performance is being strictly monitored and is operating under a last chance agreement with the City of Lake Stevens,” Little said in a statement.

The City of Lake Stevens wants to ensure the public that they do not take allegations of police misconduct lightly.

“Regarding the incidents reported in the media recently, the City takes all allegations of officer misconduct very seriously,” Mayor Little wrote in a statement. “When an investigation of an allegation results in a finding of misconduct these are not taken lightly but have been addressed with counseling and/or discipline within the scope of the City’s authority and the legal rights of the specific employees.”

In December the city settled a federal lawsuit for $100,000 which included allegations against Officer Wellington and Officer Steve Warbis.

 

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