The Bellevue Police Chief has demoted two of her top commanders for having a romantic relationship that they failed to report to their deputy chief as required by department policy.
According to internal documents obtained by KING 5, Major John Manning, who is married, had an extramarital affair with Capt. Autumn Fowler, who is also married. The relationship began in January 2012 and violates the Bellevue Police Department’s code of conduct because Manning supervised Fowler. Had Manning or Fowler reported the relationship, they could have been reassigned, according to disciplinary memos issued by Police Chief Linda Pillo. Instead, another captain discovered the relationship and reported it to the department and to Manning’s wife, according to Pillo.
Manning, one of three majors in the department, has been demoted to lieutenant. Fowler, one of eight captains, has also been demoted to lieutenant. Both were given "Last Chance" notices informing them that they would likely be terminated should they commit similar violations in the future.
In disciplinary memos to Manning and Fowler, Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo wrote: “You consciously disregarded the interests of the Department to further your own personal interests.”
Pillo also wrote: “This was not a momentary lapse in judgment. You chose your personal wants and needs over the Department’s for eight months.”
The demotions come following a Washington State Patrol Internal Affairs Administrative Investigation that began in September and involved six members of the police department’s command staff. Pillo requested assistance from the State Patrol to avoid a conflict of interest.
According to the state patrol’s report, another captain had been in a three and a half year relationship with Capt. Fowler, when he discovered last August that Fowler had been having a romantic relationship with Major Manning. Manning told investigators that the sexual relationship began when he and Fowler took a business trip to North Carolina in January 2012 to assist in an Assessment Center for the Durham Police Department.
According to the report, Manning explained that the relationship continued for months and that he communicated with Fowler "on and off duty via text message, phone calls, work email, personal e-mail, and face-to-face conversations." Manning also said “he went to great lengths to hide his relationship from his wife; therefore, he deleted messages from his phone so he did not get caught,” according to the report. Manning told investigators that he and Fowler never engaged in sex while on duty.
"Fowler explained her relationship with Manning was consensual and she received no work-related benefit as a result of her relationship with Manning," according to the report.
Carla Iafrate, Public Information Officer for Bellevue Police Department said the chief is unavailable for interviews. Iafrate said the demotions “will definitely have some impact on morale. It’s not those two individuals brightest day.”
Last month a Bellevue Police Corporal was demoted to officer and an officer was suspended for obnoxious and unruly behavior outside of a Seahawks game.