Update | Enumclaw police officer fights termination

Eric Sortland, once a high-ranking member of the Enumclaw Police Department, is battling to get his job back.

Terminated in October 2011, the former EDP lieutenant has appealed his firing to the city’s Civil Service Commission. That three-member body will convene a hearing at 9 a.m. June 21 at Enumclaw City Hall, giving both Sortland and the city the opportunity state their cases. The hearing is open to the public.

City Administrator Mike Thomas said three days have been blocked out for the hearing – possibly continuing the proceedings to June 22 and June 23.

“It’s anyone’s guess how long it will take,” he said.

The commission – consisting of chairman of Mike Stensen, Jan Molinaro and Jerry Metcalf – is appointed by the mayor and wields a fair amount of power. The three members can uphold the termination, reject the firing and reinstate Sortland or give Sortland his job back but impose sanctions like an unpaid suspension.

Police officers, except for the chief, operate under Civil Service guidelines. They are the only city employees with the ability to appeal a termination to the Civil Service Commission.

Sortland, who had been with the department more than 25 years, was fired effective Oct. 31, 2011. His termination coincided with an investigation by the state auditor’s office of the EPD’s property room, which Sortland managed. Fault was found with operation of the property room, but apparently wasn’t the only reason for his dismissal.

City Administrator Mike Thomas issued Sortland’s letter of termination. In that document, he detailed allegations of insubordination on Sortland’s part. Specifically noted were instances where Sortland took issue with comments made by Police Chief Jim Zoll. It also was noted Sortland had previously been suspended with pay for insubordination.

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