Northwest NEWS

December 7, 1998

Front Page

Mayor to begin contract talks with county police

by Lisa Allen, Valley View Editor

   CARNATION--The City Council last week authorized Mayor Dave Hunter to finalize a contract with the King County Sheriff's Office.

   The decision came after the Public Safety Committee spent months studying the options of contracting with the King County Sheriff for police services or continuing to maintain the town's police department.

   "We (the city and sheriff) have negotiated on three different occasions and are close to having a final document," Hunter said. "But there are still a couple of loose ends left."

   Hunter said he will be meeting with the county early this week and then the council will decide whether or not to approve the contract at the Dec. 15 meeting.

   "We will approve the budget at that time as well, so then we will know what it will look like next year," Hunter said. "If the council approves the contract, townspeople really won't notice a change in the officers since all the ones who qualify will be able to stay on."

   The department has three full-time officers and a chief, Sgt. D.J. Nesel, who is on loan from the county. Sgt. Nesel said last week he has offered to stay on as chief if that would be acceptable to the city.

   "I would be happy to stay in Carnation," Nesel said. "It's exciting to see this moving ahead, so we can continue with our school and other programs."

   Hunter said he expects the annual cost of contracting will be in the range of $330,000 to $340,000.

   The city's police department has been under fire since early this year when Officer Frank Sloan and Chief Gunnar Otness were placed under administrative leave during an investigation into Sloan's conduct as an officer. Sloan was subsequently fired and Otness' contract was not renewed.

   Sloan filed a claim against the city, which is currently on hold by the Civil Service Commission, Hunter said.

   "Sloan had a right to arbitration and a Civil Service hearing," Hunter said. "He agreed to an arbitration hearing, but so far, his attorney has not been able to provide documentation we need."

   Hunter said Sloan has moved away from the area so communication with him has been difficult.

   Otness also filed a claim, but Hunter said the city denied all his allegations and "nothing else has transpired since then."

   Another claim against the city regarding the police department was settled, he said.

   Mimi Dukes, a resident of Carnation, had filed a $500,000 claim, citing behavior by Sloan during a domestic violence call that she said violated her civil rights. Hunter said her claim was settled by the city's insurance company for a confidential amount.

   Hunter added he was optimistic over the city's future. "We're getting there," he said. "And having Don Morrison as an interim administrator has been a big help."