Enumclaw Police Lt. Eric Sortland’s termination affirmed by Civil Service Commission

The Oct. 5, 2011 termination of Lt. Eric Sortland from the Enumclaw Police Department has been affirmed by the Civil Service Commission.

The Civil Service Commission document dated July 10 stated, “The Commission affirms the termination of Sortland from City employment.”

It also stated, “Sortland’s appeals are denied, and the matter is dismissed.”

Mayor Liz Reynolds wrote by email concerning the decision:

“The decision that was rendered by the civil service today in regards to former police officer Eric Sortland  is a momentous decision for the city of Enumclaw. That determination of justifiable termination carries many philosophical messages:

  • This administration will not tolerate inappropriate behavior
  • Our citizenry deserves  a law enforcement agency that is professional and handles itself with high integrity and honesty.
  • I am happy for the city as a whole.  We can now put this behind us, reorganize the department and move forward in positive  manner for the community of Enumclaw.”

The report noted the the termination was warranted following Sortland’s conduct on Aug. 4.

The incident involved an argument between the Chief Jim Zoll and Sortland in Lt. Huebler’s office.

The incident involved a missing cash box and ledger from the property room on Aug. 2, 2010. The funds in the cashbox were used for purchasing drugs. The missing cashbox was reported during an inspection by the state auditor.

The cashbox– which was Sortland’s responsibility – was found. According to Sortland’s testimony, Det. Grant McCall had moved the box to a more secure location.

Zoll sent an email to Sortland Aug. 3 concerning the cash box because he found out about it from the auditor rather than from Sortland. The chief wanted an accounting from Sortland as to where the funds were and the places searched.

The termination document stated the box was found Aug. 4, which precipitated an incident that resulted in Sortland being fired.

Zoll was in Huebler’s office. Sortland went to the office to discuss the cashbox and self-audits of the property room Zoll said needed to be done annually.

An argument broke out between the two when Sortland stated Zoll had told him to stop doing self-audits. Zoll said that was not true.

As the argument continued, Zoll told Sortland the discussion was over. Sortland was standing between the door and Zoll, next to a conference table.

City documents stated Zoll ordered Sortland to get out of the way, but Sortland remained with his arms crossed, blocking the chief’s path. When the chief squeezed past Sortland, the lieutenant said the chief touched his chest. Sortland requested assault charges be filed against Zoll.

The Auburn Police were called to investigate the charge and determined there was not an assault.