A six-month investigation into the troubled Tacoma, Wa. Police Department produced no criminal charges but lots of evidence of a broken organization, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reports. Washington Attorney General Christine Gregoire said the department needs an overhaul. detectives with the Washington State Patrol will continue looking into the Tacoma department’s bankrupt management culture. One result could be administrative sanctions against officers who violated rules.
Gregoire announced findings of the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death in April of Tacoma Chief David Brame, who fatally shot his estranged wife and himself.
The report found evidence of discrimination and harassment; conflicting and illegal orders; immoral conduct; failure to investigate domestic violence; conducting personal business on duty;
improper use of department equipment; improper evidence handling; and lying. Unlike a criminal investigation, in which the targets don’t have to cooperate with detectives, police employees contacted for the administrative inquiry have the choice of either talking or losing their job.
Tacoma City Manager Jim Walton vowed to follow through on the investigation by imposing sanctions against those who break rules. “If we are ever to restore public trust and confidence, we have to be willing to make the tough calls,” said Walton.
Among issues being investigated is whether David Brame’s interest in group sex intruded on police business — particularly “whether the promotion of at least one … officer, and perhaps others, was made on the basis of inappropriate sexual activities or other relationships,” Gregoire’s office told the Pierce County prosecutor.
The report cited a pattern in which “members of the Tacoma Police Department recognized possible criminal law violations, but did not treat them as such.” The report alludes to allegations from a Tacoma officer that bribery may have played a role in the release of a prominent architect arrested after he allegedly defied a construction flagger and almost hit him with his car.
Crystal Brame’s family is pursuing a $75 million lawsuit against the city of Tacoma. It alleges that Police Department failures left David Brame with a badge and gun after his wife accused him of domestic violence, and that led to her death.
The Tacoma News Tribune reports that state investigators unraveling the Brame scandal spoke to at least seven current and former Tacoma Police Department employees about potentially improper sexual activity among department employees. “Chief Brame sought out a sexual relationship with at least one officer under his command, and he was very forthcoming to many in his department about his other sexual activities and desires,” investigators said.
Improper sexual conduct in department could be a significant factor in court, said Paul Luvera, who is representing Crystal Brame’s family in the civil suit against the city. “If the city maintains that it was running a proper department and that the David Brame situation is an aberration, I would think it would be highly relevant to a jury to see what tremendous disarray the department was in,” Luvera said.