Brame investigation: State Patrol inquiry takes precedence

In an effort to maintain a confidential criminal investigation by the State Patrol, the City Council is putting on hold the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) administrative investigation.

This is by request of the State Patrol, having asked that WASPC step back from its review.

The WASPC investigation deals with the hiring assignment, promotion and on- and off-duty conduct of David Brame.

Investigators are looking into the Tacoma Police Department’s policies and procedures related to hiring, promotion, discipline and record keeping and the conduct of other city personnel regarding decisions surrounding Brame.

The City Council discussed, in an open meeting this month, that it wanted the administrative review by WASPC to defer to the criminal investigation, if necessary.

“We want both investigations to be thorough and complete,” Mayor Bill Baarsma said. “At this time, there seems to be some duplication of effort by the two investigative teams, so we will – as agreed in our meeting – defer to the criminal investigation to proceed on its own until its conclusion.”

The WASPC administrative audit will pick up once the criminal investigation is completed.

In Washington state, when there’s a civil investigation, such as the WASPC review that involves review of public documents, state law requires the release of those documents if there’s a public disclosure request.

In a criminal investigation, the documents are exempt from public disclosure requests, at least until the criminal investigation is concluded.

“We don’t want the release of documents to have an adverse effect on the criminal investigation, so we are putting the WASPC investigation on hold at this time,” Baarsma said.

In other news related to the Brame investigation, Pierce County sheriff’s deputies say they would have looked into a 1988 rape allegation against Tacoma’s late police chief, but the police department never told them of it.

Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said the case, which the police department internal affairs unit ruled “not sustained,” should have been investigated by the sheriff’s department because it was alleged to have occurred in unincorporated Pierce County.