SOUTH BEND — Pacific County Sheriff’s Chief Criminal Deputy Matt Padgett was fired on Friday, Dec. 6 for unidentified policy violations.

Padgett said he disagrees with the decision and will work to clear his name. He was placed on administrative leave on Sept. 23 after a workplace complaint was filed against him. The county asked an investigation be done into Padgett’s behavior by the county’s risk pool.

The investigative file led Pacific County Sheriff Robin Souvenir to fire Padgett for policy violations, according to Padgett’s termination letter. Details of the policy violations have not been released.

In a statement about the firing, the sheriff’s office said it investigated two complaints against Padgett involving discriminatory conduct in the workplace. A third-party investigator specializing in workplace investigations ran the inquiry.

Padgett disagrees

Padgett also released a statement Friday. After thanking those who had reached out to him in support, he called his dismissal unwarranted. He said he would be able to clear his name “as soon as all of the relevant information is available to the public.”

The Chinook Observer is waiting on information requests regarding the investigation into Padgett’s misconduct. Due to redactions and the need to collect all the relevant documents, the county expects the information to be released in January.

“Many lives have been and will continue to be adversely affected and regardless of what transpires over the next several months or years, no outcome could ever repair the damage that has and will be inflicted,” Padgett wrote in his statement.

Sheriff’s position

Souvenir spoke with Padgett prior to his firing. After reviewing the information from the investigator, Souvenir concluded Padgett’s behavior toward one of the employees was a serious policy violation, according to the release from the sheriff’s office.

“The Sheriff’s Office is committed to maintaining a work environment that is free from discrimination,” the statement read.

Padgett is entitled to a liberty interest hearing to contest the firing and provide information that could counter the investigative file. His deadline to request that hearing is Wednesday, Dec. 11.

Padgett will be paid his salary through Dec. 6.

The decision to place Padgett on leave was made on advice from the Pacific County risk manager as well as Undersheriff Ron Davis and the county prosecutor’s office. Padgett is the brother-in-law of Souvenir.

Souvenir promoted Padgett from chief civil deputy to chief criminal deputy in May, raising Padgett’s monthly pay to $6,099 from $5,315, according to the promotion request Souvenir filed with Pacific County Commissioners on April 23.

Past rumbles

Internal and external investigations have circled Padgett for more than a year.

In March, Padgett was investigated after an unidentified employee reported Padgett had called a subordinate an obscenity, according to a memo from prosecuting attorney McClain. The subordinate said Padgett did not create a hostile work environment. The investigation was then closed.

In February, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office was asked to investigate harassment allegations made against Padgett by a Shoalwater Bay Police Department officer and a former Raymond Police Department officer. The alleged behavior occurred prior to Padgett joining the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office. The Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer did not file charges against Padgett.

Prior to joining the Pacific County Sheriff’s office, Padgett worked under Souvenir at the Shoalwater Bay Police Department. In fall 2018 while Padgett was a lieutenant with the department, he was investigated by Washington State Patrol after the tribal government received reports that Padgett had bullied and sexually harassed members of the police department. This internal investigation was terminated when Padgett left the Shoalwater police and no conclusion was reached.

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