The labor union representing the King County Police Majors and Captains filed a complaint against King County Sheriff John Urquhart for alleged unfair labor practices, including retaliation and intimidation.
“We want to do the right thing and keep our members informed of misconduct, but the Sheriff is threatening our jobs,” Union President Carl Cole said in a news release. “We are going out on a limb on this to make sure the public knows what’s going on inside the Sheriff’s Office.”
The Puget Sound Police Managers Association alleged Urquhart retaliated against union leadership and Captain Rodney Chinnick, who turned down an assignment to head the Internal Affairs Unit. The union also claimed Urquhart tried to influence the current election for Sheriff.
The union leadership claims Urquhart investigated union meetings using “unlawful ‘surveillance’ and ‘intimidation’” after Urquhart faced allegations of rape and mishandling internal investigations.
Urquhart was cleared of the rape accusation in April.
Chinnick took a demotion to avoid working in the Internal Affairs Unit, because Chinnick had ethical concerns about the way Urquhart ran the unit, according to the Puget Sound Police Managers Association.
In the complaint, Chinnick claims he then asked Urquhart to rescind the demotion, and Urquhart refused.
The union also claims Urquhart tried to influence union members’ votes on the ballot. The complaint claims Major Noel Fryberger met with Union Vice President Marcus Williams at Urquhart’s direction and told Williams if the union supported Urquhart’s opponent Major Mitzi Johanknecht, Urquhart would “destroy them.”
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King County Captain Scott Somers called the labor practices a serious morale issue.
“He’s put is in a terrible position,” Somers said in a news release. “There’s all sorts of questions of dishonesty and incompetence that embarrass our membership.”
Urquhart said the allegations are not true.
“These same captains are financing my opponent’s campaign,” Urquhart said in a statement. “The complaint is full of lies and is a transparent attempt to generate bad press in the midst of a political campaign.”
Urquhart also said the captains are upset that he held them “held them to the same standard as deputies when they commit misconduct.”
For example, Urquhart said Cole was investigated for an inappropriate comment to a subordinate. A Guild e-board member was investigated for posting an obscene comic to a police Twitter account. Two other captains are being investigated for failing to complete required paperwork.
The complaint will be reviewed by the state labor board.