Totaled sheriff's vehicle

A May 3 accident that resulted in a Pacific County Sheriff’s Office vehicle being totaled apparently led to the deputy who was driving being dismissed from his position.

SOUTH BEND — Pacific County Sheriff Robin Souvenir has fired Deputy Logan Macomber less than a month after his fourth major incident in 13 months. The decision came after a thorough investigation conducted by the agency.

County Risk Manager Kathy Spoor and other county officials were notified by Souvenir on May 28 that Macomber’s employment had been terminated. The investigation took several weeks to complete and included Teamsters Local Union #252 that represents deputies.

Four incidents

Macomber’s first on-duty collision was on April 8, 2020, when he approached the intersection of Butte Creek Road and U.S. Highway 101 at a high rate of speed, causing him to go through the shoulder of US 101 before crashing on the other side of the roadway.

Eight months later, on Dec. 12, he was involved in another collision at the intersection of 238th Place and Sandridge Road when he rear-ended another vehicle while responding to an emergency.

Macomber was found at fault during both incidents in 2020 after admitting he was using his patrol vehicle laptop at the time of the accidents. He was reprimanded by supervisors and was ordered to complete additional training and refrain from using his patrol vehicle’s laptop while driving.

Earlier this year, on Feb. 21, Macomber accidentally discharged his firearm inside his Long Beach apartment while practicing drawing his firearm from the holster before going on duty. He was reportedly reprimanded, but Souvenir declined to comment on the specifics.

On May 3, the sheriff’s vehicle Macomber was driving was totaled in a collision with a UPS delivery truck, which was turning left onto 199th from Sandridge Road as Macomber attempted to pass on the left.

Progressive discipline

Due to the union contract, Spoor and county officials cannot talk specifically about an employee’s reprimand or termination. However, Spoor offered to explain the progressive process that ensures all union-represented employees get a fair shake.

In the instance of a deputy involved in a work-related collision or significant incident, the sheriff’s office and union work together during the investigation. The union makes sure that the county follows the proper protocol outlined in the collective bargaining agreement.

“In general, what happens, because [these persons] and most of our employees, other than our management, are represented by a union, they get involved early on in any disciplinary action,” Spoor said. “There is a range of disciplinary action that can happen, and it is progressive.”

The first step in less severe incidents is a verbal warning or reprimand from a supervisor. It will typically include instructions on correcting the issue or requiring the employee to obtain further training. The next step then progresses to a written warning, which goes into the employee’s file.

“[With] the verbal warning, there might be an indication in a supervisor’s file that this warning was made and whatever corrective action was put into place,” Spoor said. “The written warning is a formal written document that goes into the employees’ file, and again, typically, there’s a recommendation for some type of corrective action.”

“Whether it’s training, whether it’s a reassignment of some duties or whatever it might be to address. Typically, if it’s a similar incident, sometimes we see someone doing the same thing over and over or see people doing things that are similar in nature, we still follow the progressive disciplinary action even though it might not be the exact same incident, but it’s similar,” Spoor added.

The third step in the collective bargaining agreement is employee demotion, but because most of the agencies in the county, including the sheriff’s office, don’t have enough staff to accommodate this action, it’s usually not available.

“The next thing is suspension,” Spoor said. “This can be used if there is a significant infraction or it’s a repeated violation. It can take any number of forms; it can be a week off or a couple of weeks off.”

“It can be with pay or without pay. Typically, I see it without pay, but sometimes in disciplinary actions, the elected official or department will allow a person to use their leave for some portion of that time off, but it’s still then having to give something,” she added.

Last resort

According to Spoor, once the county has exhausted all other options, the decision to terminate an employee arrives and is not taken lightly. Rarely does the county go straight to terminating an employee unless “they do something egregious,” she mentioned.

“At some point [we] have to make a call that we’ve done everything we can to rectify the situation, and either the number of incidents or severity of the incidents has gotten to the point where we just don’t have another option,” Spoor added.

Over the years, Spoor has seen department heads ready to fire an employee immediately because they are frustrated with their performance. However, they’ve had to work through the entire process to remedy the issues first because of the collective bargaining agreement.

“The union wants to ensure the level of discipline is appropriate for the level of offense,” Spoor said. “Over the years, I have seen where the union has been “Yeah, we agree, and our member is going to do this, and we hope you know...”

“From our perspective, a management perspective, discipline is not meant to be punitive; it’s meant to make the employee aware of the problem and put together a corrective action so that we can resolve the problem,” she added.

‘It wasn’t easy’

During his career with the sheriff’s office, Macomber had several notable successes, including pursuing a man who was driving while intoxicated and swerving at Washington Department of Transportation employees.

According to Spoor, the decision to let the deputy go was hard; she noted the young deputy was spoken positively about around the county and very well-liked by his peers.

“Law enforcement jobs, people don’t do it for the money,” Spoor said. “[They do] it because it’s something they love and they want to do, and they’re excited about. You feel bad if you are in a situation where somebody has to be let go because it’s obviously something they want to do.”

The Observer reached out to Souvenir for comment on the deputy’s departure and did not receive a reply.

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