Fired cop wins job back, gets put on leave

Fired cop wins job back, gets put on leave »Play Video
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, Wash. -- A local cop who claims he was wrongfully fired has been reinstated to the force. Jonathan Wender now collects a paycheck, but doesn't have to work.

Wender was fired from the Mountlake Terrace Police Department. He and the department disagree on the reason. The department claims Wender told a lie. Wender claims he spoke his mind.

Wender says he'll never forget the day he discovered the force was going to fire him.

"Livid, furious, heartbroken," he said. "I felt I had been betrayed by the very people whom I expected would have my back."

Three years ago, the department investigated Wender for his handling of a case involving a small marijuana grow operation. When the investigation was through, the department fired Wender, claiming he lied about details of the case.

But Wender claims there's a different reason. He belongs to a law enforcement group that supports the legalization of drugs.

Wender is not pro-drug, but says he has openly criticized the country's war on drugs at seminars and in his local paper. And that, he says, is why he believes he was fired.

It's also the reason he sued the department.

"For me, being accused of untruthfulness was the last straw," he said.

Wender settled the case and won $800,000. He has also been reinstated to the force. And fellow officers have shown their support by writing him letters, calling him a good cop.

"I think I have reaffirmed the underlying principles that allow me or anyone else to speak out," he said.

Wender is on the force again, but he doesn't work. Immediately after reinstating him, the department placed him on paid leave for two years after which he is due to retire.

Wender misses the days of chasing crime in a police car.

"I absolutely love it. It's in my blood," he said.

Wender earned a doctorate while working on the force, and has been teaching sociology at the University of Washington.

The police department had no comment on the case.