Tacoma, WA - A Washington State Patrol trooper has now been reprimanded for her actions at an incident where ICE arrested a wanted felon with a federal warrant. The reason for the reprimand is more bizarre than you might think.
According to Q13 Fox, the incident began on February 9th when the Trooper, who was not identified, did a routine check of a driver’s license during a traffic crash on I-5. That driver’s license belonged to Armando Chavez Corona, whose car was hit during a multi-vehicle collision.
When Corona’s driver’s license was checked, which is standard procedure for officers to do when investigating car crashes, a warning came back from federal authorities that Corona was a deported felon, and that he was wanted for an outstanding felony warrant. The warning asked that federal agents be contacted if Corona was located.
The Washington State Trooper then contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to confirm the warning, as she had been trained to do. ICE agents later took Corona into custody. Further research showed that Corona had been deported four times, between 1996 and 2000, and had previously been convicted on a felony cocaine charge.
Governor Jay Inslee's office heard about the incident, and complained to the Washington State Patrol, who launched an unwarranted investigation into the trooper's actions.
According to KOMO News, the investigation is now over and the trooper was reprimanded. However, Chief John Batiste says that the reprimand was not about contact with ICE.
"We determined there was absolutely nothing wrong with the trooper contacting ICE for the benefit of determining whether the person posed a threat to the trooper or to the community," Chief Batiste said. "That was the proper thing to have done."
The trooper was instead reprimanded for conduct that was "unbecoming."
Captured on dash camera footage, the trooper told a citizen who was riding with her, "I'm going to ask his mother's and father's names. 'I don't know, know my father's name. No habla ingles.' Ha, ha."
That comment was deemed to be a policy violation, as well as another violation for turning off her dash camera before issuing an infraction for no insurance.
After the trooper was disciplined for her comment, many people were left with the impression that the trooper was reprimanded over a nonsense allegation in order to avoid political backlash. We can assure you, that is not the case.
After speaking with our Washington State Patrol contacts, they all assure us that overblown discipline is all a part of working for the Washington State Patrol.
"It's pretty normal to get written up just because people complain, whether it has any merit or not." One of our sources said, "For any somewhat serious allegation, they'll launch an investigation, and if you did anything that could in any way be considered to be in the slightest bit unprofessional, you're gonna be disciplined."
While the governor's complaint was political nonsense, the trooper was doomed to be disciplined as soon as the Office of Professional Standards discovered unprofessional behavior, another source agreed.
In the end, the agency should have simply explained the obvious circumstances to the governor's office, rather than launch an investigation. However, after the investigation was launched, there's no evidence that politics influenced the outcome. There's just administrators who have their bow-ties on a little too tight.