As he has many times before, King County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Savage went in front of his bosses this week to answer allegations he'd crossed the line.
Savage was informed a week earlier that his commanders were recommending termination for a long list of department violations.
Now it's final.
"The pattern of behavior and the lack of integrity are completely unacceptable for a member of this department," said Chief Deputy Steve Strachan in an internal email. Strachan sent the e-mail to managers in the Sheriff's Office explaining why he'd decided to terminate Savage.
Savage was put on paid administrative leave last June while the King County Sheriff’s Office investigated the five most recent complaints of misconduct involving the deputy. During that time, Savage collected his $7,139 monthly salary.
Pattern of problems
Altogether Savage has been the target of 22 internal investigations and has had 30 findings of misconduct--everything from conduct unbecoming, to insubordination to inappropriate use of authority.
While patrolling Vashon Island in 2009, Savage racked up so many complaints the Sheriff’s Office moved him off the island after just nine months.
“I don’t think it’s possible to understate how fearful these folks were,” said Vashon Defense Attorney Steve Mueller.
Mueller said he began hearing stories of Deputy Savage bullying islanders, after Mueller took on the case of a local woman charged with assault. Mueller said Savage made it clear to witnesses he expected them to see things his way.
Mueller said one witness recounted a frightening exchange with Savage. “(Savage) told him he was wrong, told him to shut up in terms of using profanity. And at one point took his taser out of its holster, pointed it at the ceiling and lit the taser up,” Mueller said.
In another case, Mueller says he paid a witness a visit at her home in the middle of the night, demanded she come outside and talk to him, “took at his baton, lunged at her, scared the bejesus out of her,” Mueller said.
The complaints weren’t limited to Vashon. According to one internal investigation, in 2009 Savage illegally entered a Skyway apartment, swore at the young children inside and forcefully arrested their mother without probable cause.
The Sheriff suspended Savage for three days. In a scathing memo, she told the deputy his actions sent the message that “police officers are unprofessional and bullies who threaten people into cooperating.”
But the pattern of problems continued.
One of the recent cases involves a complaint that Savage told a teen he could sexually assault her with a pen and she couldn’t stop him.
Under the union contract, Savage can appeal his termination. Calls to Savage and the King County Police Officers Guild were not returned.