Review finds Pacific police chief abused power

Review finds Pacific police chief abused power »Play Video
John Calkins
PACIFIC, Wash. -- Documents obtained by KOMO News show that an independent investigation into Pacific Police Chief John Calkins found the chief twice violated "commonly accepted standards of conduct for law enforcement officers and chiefs of police."

Pacific Mayor Rich Hildreth requested the review by the Klickitat County Sheriff's Office after our earlier Problem Solvers investigation found that four separate times since 2001, Calkins had been the subject of a police investigation for alleged intimidation with a weapon, drunk driving, witness tampering and trespass.

In all of the cases, a jury either acquitted Calkins or prosecutors declined to file charges. However, in each of the cases of alleged wrongdoing there were also allegations that he used his badge and his police position to threaten and intimidate.

Hildreth initially said no review was necessary, but about three weeks after our first report asked the Klickitat County Sheriff's Office to investigate.

The investigation, which was led by Klickitat County Undersheriff Erik Anderson, found that in two of the incidents Calkins abused his power.

In the first case, Calkins allegedly used his police issued gun and car to intimidate his wife's ex husband.

While Calkins was never charged in the matter, Anderson described the chief's actions as an abuse of his position.

The second incident stemmed from a 2008 arrest in Bonney Lake when Calkins was stopped for allegedly driving drunk. The arresting officer says Calkins tried to intimidate him.

"It takes one person, one cop, to give the rest of us a black eye," Bonney Lake Police Chief Mike Mitchell told us last April, "and this to me was a black eye."

Calkins allegedly flashed his badge and said told the officer he was the chief in Pacific.

"I can't help but believe that was a way to say, time out, I'm the Chief, let me go home," Mitchell said.

Calkins was charged with DUI. Months later a jury acquitted him, saying there wasn't enough evidence. Calkins had refused a blood test when a breathalyzer wouldn't work.

The independent investigation determined that Calkins abused his power when he tried to intimidate the arresting officer.

"The fact he intentionally refused the tests leads me to believe he was in fact impaired," Anderson wrote in the report.

Anderson's review found that Calkins did not abuse his power in the other two cases.

In the report, Anderson also wrote that he found a pattern of Calkins criticizing people involved in investigations into his actions.


Raw interview with Mayor Hildreth

One deputy described as Calkins "trying to throw his weight around" to influence the investigation, Anderson wrote.

Despite the findings by the independent investigation, Hildreth has informed Calkins that no action will be taken against him.

In a letter sent to Calkins last week, Hildreth wrote "In the matter of allegations that you may have abused your position as Police Chief of the City of Pacific, on any of the four occasions noted by the KOMO TV story, I find insufficient evidence to take further action and consider this matter closed."

In an interview with KOMO, Hildreth said he thinks Calkins is a good officer.

"I don't think he always, might not always use the best judgement and that is something we have counseled him on," Hildreth said.

Hildreth said he and the council talked to other witnesses that the Klickitat investigators didn't speak with. Asked who those witnesses are, Hildreth said "Well, we have the affidavit from Chief Calkins wife that was there, we also looked at the police reports and other people; I don't have the reports in front of me so I don't, can't give you the names on those."

Anderson said he had "more than enough information to make a solid opinion" on all of the incidents he reviewed.

Told that the city planned to take no action against Calkins, Anderson said he was "surprised by their decision," but he has no further involvment in the case since his review was completed as requested.