Sheriff fires deputy accused of running random license plates

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by KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on May 1, 2014 at 1:22 PM

Updated Thursday, May 1 at 7:05 PM

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash.—Leaders with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office fired Deputy Todd Saunders on Thursday for his misconduct on the job.

Saunders was placed on administrative leave in March after allegations surfaced from a citizen that he had inappropriate on-duty behavior. Officials said they received a tip that Saunders was frequently at a home in the West Plains area while on-duty.

Spokane County Sheriff, Ozzie Knezovich, said he hoped swift and severe consequences for Saunder’s actions would be a deterrent for bad behavior in the future.

“He stole our time, he should have been patrolling,” Knezovich said.

Knezovich said the department finished the administrative aspect of the criminal investigation and gave the file to the prosecutors at the end of April. He said keeping corruption out of the sheriff’s office would be up to the taxpayers, regardless of the prosecutors’ decision.

“The citizens are truly the bosses,” said Knezovich.

The allegations first surfaced from a neighbor who flagged down another deputy. The neighbor said they had noticed a patrol car parked for hours on end on multiple occasions at the home. Witnesses said Saunders would sometimes hide his car in the woman’s garage.

WATCH: Cleaning up SCSO

KREM 2 News was told that the home does not belong to Saunders.

Saunders was able to get away with avoiding work for months because he made it look like he was working.  An internal investigation found Deputy Todd Saunders ran random license plate numbers when he was not on the streets.

“He was running license plates, he was checking names but what we didn’t know, he wasn't running those plates out on the street. He was doing that at the lady's house,” said Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich during an April interview.

2On Your Side asked the sheriff how that kind of behavior would be prevented in the future.

“I give my deputies a great amount of responsibility,” Knezovich said. “95% of them go out and do their job very well. In situations like these, we have to rely on supervisors.”

Officials had to spend days apologizing to citizens Saunder’s victimized by running their information without cause. One of the victims was the woman in questions ex-husband, who has since filed an anti-harassment order against Saunders.

WATCH: Sheriff apologizes for deputy

The Spokane County Sheriff said new GPS capabilities would make it impossible for other deputies to fall of the grid the way Saunders did.

“We’ll be using GPS to map out patrol areas and patterns… things like that,” Knezovich said.

Authorities told KREM 2 News that criminal charges for theft are possible. However, the decision will be left to the Spokane County Prosecutor.

 

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