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The Spokane Valley News Herald
City of Spokane Valley, WA
Arbitrator upholds termination of deputy

05/17/2019

By MIKE HUFFMAN
Managing Editor

 

On Friday, an abitrator’s opinion and Award letter was received regarding the termination of Travis Smith, a former deputy. 
In the letter, arbitrator Martin Henner found Travis Smith violated Washington statute and that he was untruthful during the investigation into his actions, denying Smith’s grievance of his termination of employment as a deputy in May 2018, said spokesman Cpl. Mark Gregory sheriff’s spokesman.

On May 10, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office received Arbitrator Henner’s Opinion and Award letter, dated May 7, 2019, regarding the grievance of discipline in the termination of former Deputy Travis Smith.  Smith was terminated on May 7, 2018, by Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich following an internal investigation which found Smith, while investigating a complaint of a violation of a domestic violence no-contact order, recorded telephone calls without all parties’ consent in violation of Washington law and had been dishonest in his responses during a Sheriff’s Office internal investigation.

After his termination, Smith requested the Spokane County Deputy Sheriff’s Association (DSA) file a grievance on his behalf against Knezovich under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the DSA and Spokane County.

In Arbitrator henner’s ultimate finding he states, “Because of the seriousness of the Grievant’s [Smith’s] conduct in violating the Washington statute, and, more importantly, the finding that he was untruthful during the investigation of this violation, I have concluded that the sheriff’s decision to terminate his employment was not unreasonable and satisfies the standard of just cause.” and the grievance was denied.

Smith was previously terminated from employment with the Sheriff’s Office in January of 2011 for misconduct and several policy violations to include a criminal violation of Washington statute third-degree malicious mischouf.

At that time, Arbitrator, Shelly C. Shapiro, wrote, “The Sheriff’s conclusion that Grievant [Smith] violated RCW 9A.48.090 was established by clear and convincing evidence.” and she also concluded Smith was guilty of violating several Sheriff’s Office policies noted in the investigations. 

Arbitrator Shapiro went on to say, “Despite the serious nature of Grievant’s [Smith] conduct, there are mitigating factors undermining just cause for his termination.”  Those factors included the fact that “the criminal acts committed … did not put anyone’s physical safety at risk” and that the “acts were done out of the public view.”  She also considered Smith’s youth, his short law enforcement career and his pursuit of an advanced degree after becoming a deputy among additional factors.

Desirous of giving him a chance to correct his behavior, she found ‘just cause’ for a lengthy suspension without pay until his reinstatement in November 2011.

Due to this decision in 2011, the Sheriff’s Office was forced to reinstate Smith as a Deputy in November 2011.

 
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TheSpokane Valley News Herald is the City of Spokane Valley, Washington's official Newspaper. The City Council of the City of Spokane Valley, Washington named the Spokane Valley News Herald as the city's "official" newspaper. The designation means the Spokane Valley News Herald will publish the city's legal notices on a contract basis for one year.

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