Guest column: Suspension for arrested deputy explained

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 8:42 pm

By Steve Mansfield
Lewis County sheriff

Recently, one of my employees, while off duty, was arrested for driving under the influence. The occurrence has received significant media and public attention.

The circumstances in this event fortunately involved neither property damage nor injury to others.

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Lewis County Sheriff Steve Mansfield

Had it involved a common citizen, it likely would have received only minimal media attention if any at all. However, since it involved an off-duty officer who is sworn and empowered to enforce and uphold the laws of this state, including DUI’s, it was considered news-worthy, and a topic of discussion in our community.

This is a legitimate interest which I do not dispute. I even had some inmates I was supervising on a work crew over the weekend inquire about the situation. One even claimed to have been arrested by this employee for DUI.

Many of the comments and inquiries center on whether the employee will face the same penalties and accountability an ordinary citizen arrested for DUI would, or will he be treated differently because of his law enforcement status.

Just to be perfectly clear, the employee will receive no preferential treatment under the law nor any leniency in meeting legal requirements than what would be afforded to any other citizen arrested for DUI.

What may likely be very different from what most citizens would experience in their employment are the administrative sanctions imposed by my office.

Years ago when I first became a deputy, an incident like this would end a career with few questions asked. Today’s labor laws and union contracts afford greater protection to employees by ensuring due process is followed and discipline is only imposed in accordance with the principles of  just cause.

Labor contracts also have grievance provisions that can ultimately take final disciplinary decisions out of the hands of management and put them into the hands of the Civil Service Commission, arbitrators, or superior court judges.

I typically refrain from voluntarily disclosing details of disciplinary action taken within my office, but I feel the circumstances of this case warrant such disclosure.

In looking at the totality of this situation and the employee’s exemplary performance over the past 12 years, the administrative sanctions imposed  included a two week unpaid suspension from duty, removal from his current position as detective and a last chance agreement that ties his continued employment directly to the conditions imposed by the court.

I believe many of the problems we deal with today exist in part, because we have lost so much of the social accountability that we once had in the past. This is not just accountability that emerges from media attention, but more importantly accountability that originates in and is enforced by our families, friends, schools, churches and organizations to which we belong.

Regardless of one’s profession, religion, sex or race, we are all human, and we are all susceptible to making mistakes and bad choices. When alcohol is involved, it seems mistakes and bad choices are all too often the end result.

Despite our intense focus on education and enforcement, DUI still continues to destroy families, careers and compromises safety and security within our communities.

As a society, we hold those who break the law accountable for their actions.

You as citizens naturally and rightly expect and demand those of us who are sworn to protect and enforce the law, to obey those laws and be held just as accountable for our actions.

That social expectation is extremely influential in motivating us to achieve our mission, uphold our oath of office and code of ethics, and to protect and serve you in a manner that fosters trust, is responsible, respectful, fair and caring.

My employee made an extremely poor, unacceptable decision when he chose to drink, get behind the wheel of his vehicle, and drive down the roadway. It is a decision over which he is extremely embarrassed and sincerely regrets.

He is now being held accountable for that mistake.

It is my hope this employee turns the negative of this experience into something positive and constructive that ultimately leads to him being a better employee, a better citizen, and a father his family can look up to.

He has recommitted himself to me that he will fulfill our mission and uphold his oath of office and code of ethics as he carries out his duties and responsibilities in serving you, the citizens of this county.

Not everyone earns, deserves, or is afforded a second chance. It is my expectation, not only as your sheriff, but also as a citizen, that he earns and proves himself worthy of this opportunity.
•••

For background, read “Lewis County sheriff’s deputy pleads not guilty to DUI” from Friday September 13, 2013, here

28 Responses to “Guest column: Suspension for arrested deputy explained”

  1. asap says:

    That is the problem with elected officials. When they do such a Shity job that the people want them fired but we can’t fire Beyer of fire elected officials .. All of mansfield’s promises to protect the citizens of lewis county and their rights guaranteed them by the constitution.. Was all just a crock of Shit as my grandfather would say that man has done nothing to protect your civil rights as guaranteed by the constitution of the United States/Washington State constitution… And I feel strongly when a man gives his word he should stand by it. But this man has not! All his campaign promises were just that as we have seen by his performance in civil rights matters. I honestly think the man would scrap the constitution it was up to him!!!! vote his ass out

  2. oh knows says:

    Just vote him out,come next election you will not get my vote again

  3. crazee says:

    Pre-Clinton…I totally agree with you. But with all our moaning and groaning and bitching…the shit ain’t gonna stop. Im talking of the shit that flows out of Mansfield’s own mouth! He’s the Sheriff and ain’t no amount of truth that will stop him from having things exactly as he wants them. The shit he pulls is so blatant and wrong yet he gets away with it every fucking time. It makes me sick thinking of the people who see all his bullshit, and turn their heads. Humphrey should be fired with a quickness, he’s worse than any addict he ever arrested. I feel for his wife, trying to cope with a piece of shit husband like that.

  4. ericka says:

    CAN HIS ASS. HE PROMISES TO FULFILL ALL THATS REQUIRED TO BE A BETTER CITIZEN, EMPLOYEE,BLAH,BLAH,BLAH. YEAH SO DO THE REST OF US, SO CAN WE BE COPS TOO ? YIPEEE I GET TO DRIVE THE TANK. JUST SAYING

  5. Barbara says:

    Dino, I didn’t think he was going to run again. I know Snaza is running, not sure of anyone else yet since it is kinda early. I would not be surprised at all if Mansfield retires rather than run again.

  6. huh? says:

    “…You as citizens naturally and rightly expect and demand those of us who are ………blah blah”

    THAT statement alone should raise your eyebrows.

    YOU as citizens

    shouldn’t that be WE as citizens?

    Above us a little?

    Just sayin..

  7. double standard.. says:

    No one was injured, no property damage.. that is irrelevant.

    Since when is that ever mentioned when a regular citizen gets busted for this?

    He has not, nor will he be treated the same as a regular taxpayer
    in spite of all the empty promises of his boss.

  8. Pre-Clinton says:

    Humphrey needs to be fired, he has crossed the line and does not deserve to wear a badge. Mansfield is no better,he is dishonest,his judgement is not what citizens expect out of a sheriff. Cheeseman could better serve the county.

  9. Ha Ha says:

    His teeth are too white….totally photoshopped

  10. BobbyinLC says:

    The dog incident involved a Chehalis Police Officer not a Sheriff’s Deputy so Mansfield cannot be held to answer for that investigation. People please keep your facts staright.

  11. Alex says:

    Mansfield is a moron

  12. Ella M. Allen says:

    While I appreciate that Sheriff Mansfield chose to explain his reasoning on this case, I disagree with it. I had doubts about my thoughts until I read the earlier article. In it, I saw that the officer not only tried to outrun the one trying to stop him, but had passengers in the vehicle he was driving. He was not only choosing to try to out run the officer, deliberaltely, but placing others in danger. If he had chosen to stop and ‘take his medicine’ I’d have more respect for him as an officer of the law, and thought perhaps he deserved that second chance. Because of his actions, I do not.

  13. Steve says:

    Syndee- are you blind or stupid or both? The Sheriff clearly said the Deputy is suspended for two weeks without pay and removed from his position as a Detective.

  14. TomTT says:

    If he had any integrity, he would have pleaded guilty.

  15. crazee says:

    Oh my God….I think the “explanation” letter and the first ten comments on it all came from the same pen! It just doesn’t happen like that on Sirens. Either that or our Rebels have all gone complacent or something!!! MmmIm pretty sure complacent is the word I was looking for. Yep

  16. BlickeyBlouse says:

    So basically you’re sticking up for him, in an editorial disguised as a news item.

  17. JD says:

    Sheriff Mansfield himself thinks he is above the law. I think everyone has forgotten about the crime that he committed while serving as our elected sheriff. He hid a runaway and an infant and then lied about it and had several of his deputies cover it up. Then he fired the deputy that stood up and did the right thing by bringing it to the public’s attention.

    Sheriff Mansfield, the trooper and Deputy Humphrey are all doing the right thing by keeping everything above board on THIS issue. But I think Sheriff Mansfield should have lost his job and been prosecuted himself.

    We certainly should NOT have re elected him to lead the Sheriff’s Office.

  18. Oh please says:

    I just wanna know if it was an officer or another individual in regards to the dog thing. If, in fact it was an officer of course there should be consequences for that as well. The public should be privy to that information. Animal cruelty should be taken no more lightly than a DUI. It is wreckless, inhumane, and should not have happened. Just as the officer that chose to drink and drive, another (since no one knows WHO) may have chose to harm an animal. There is no explanations, or consequences. So what is the truth there???

  19. Trevor Sanchez says:

    Officer Humphrey will lose a lot of pay after being demoted. Plus his suspension without pay, his legal fee’s, fines probation costs, supervision costs, loss of overtime, extra insurance costs, etc. I figure that over two years Mr. Humphrey’s “mistake” will have cost him close to $20,000. And in that light, I believe that Sheriff Mansfield made the right decision. The LCSO and citizens have a lot of money and training tied up with Mr Humphrey’s. Monitering and retraining is the right track and Sheriff Mansfield has ordered that. Thank You Sheriff Mansfield for explaining to us citizens the “whys” of the course of action you took.

  20. Mike says:

    This is a good call on the Sheriff’s part. Law enforcement officers are held to a higher standard but cops are human and therefore less than perfect. Most people would not have their jobs in jeopardy from a DUI arrest but this higher standard is something that law enforcement imposes on itself.

  21. Just Sayin' says:

    Syndee, perhaps you can read the article again….it is spelled out in detail what administrative action was taken against him. If you are interested in the criminal proceedings you can find that out through the freedom of information act.

    V: No excuses are being made. He broke the law. He is being held accountable under the law and under his employers policy. There are not many professions that will take action against you for violating the law.

    My guess is that you were not present during the “murder” of “the dog”. Be careful that you do not engage in reckless accusations based soley upon a news article, or what someone told you. You too must be held accountable for your words, especially those that are recklessly spoken. The death of the dog is not subject to opinions; yours or mine, but rather to facts that we are not priviliged to know.

    I apprecaite Sheriff Mansfields candor in publicly expressing his decision. He was under no complusion to do so but felt it was important…I applaud him for that.

  22. Emily says:

    BTW, I for one, appreciate the explanation.

  23. Emily says:

    I guess Sheriff Mansfield is the person who gets to make this decision, because we, as voters, elected him to do so. I pray this doesn’t backfire and that his choice to keep him on as a deputy does not become a regretful one.

  24. TC says:

    I once heard a phrase, someone in his position should be “Higher degree of responsibility”, which I believe should apply in this case.

  25. N says:

    He didn’t have to explain it and he did anyways. It was a bad incident in which he will face court costs and legal fines, he was also demoted and lost 2 weeks pay.so it has cost him thousands of dollars, more than others. In the eyes of some of you this may not be enough but your not the judge that could have said no you can’t fire him and cost the county thousands in court costs. Just be thankful that he signed an agreement saying if he screws up he is done.

  26. syndee martinez says:

    so what exactly is his punishment? all I read is his promise to do what he should have done in the first place.

  27. Dino says:

    You know something, I was not going to vote for Sheriff Mansfield, now I think I will. Good call sir.

  28. v says:

    So this guy gets excuses made, whatever. What about the dog murderer?

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