Former Snohomish police officer sues county over job loss

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by JOHN LANGELER / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @jlangelerKING5

KING5.com

Posted on January 27, 2013 at 6:36 PM

Updated Sunday, Jan 27 at 11:55 PM

A former Snohomish Police sergeant is suing Snohomish County for effectively ending his career in law enforcement over a disputed lie detector test.  The suit was filed in federal court last week.
              
Donald Loen worked in law enforcement for seventeen years, including time with Washington State Patrol and two terms with Snohomish Police. 

When the city ended its police force in 2011 and contracted with Snohomish County, its officers had the ability become deputies, provided they pass a background test.  The test includes a polygraph.

According to the lawsuit, Loen was asked whether he had sold drugs in his past and “recalled an occasion as a teenager some 23 years ago when he had thought he may have been paid for a nominal amount of marijuana.” 

Loen told KING 5 he never recalled the event before.

“It’s definitely not an issue.  It’s something that happened so long ago and something that I’m not involved with now,” Loen said.

Still, according to Loen, he was told by the woman administering the polygraph that he was “within the acceptable range” of the computer.

“She told me congratulations, you’ve passed the background examination.  Welcome to the Sheriff’s Office,” Loen said.

Days later, Loen was told by Snohomish County he did not get the job because, “we felt you were being deceptive” according to Loen.

Loen appealed to the county Civil Service Commission and lost.  He tried to join the force in Kittias County and in Ellensburg, but despite testing highly, was turned down when Snohomish County informed them he had “failed” the polygraph.

“I would’ve moved on if they hadn’t told these things that weren’t true to another agency,” Loen said.

Snohomish County Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Jason Cummings said the office could not say much about the litigation, but maintained “We’ve done everything right.” 

The Sheriff’s Office did not return our call.

Loen doubts he will ever be a police officer again, saying he’s “seen a different side that has been ugly, cold and cruel.”  He is training to become a truck driver.

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