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Two Cowlitz Towns Considering Cop Who Resigns



February 09, 2002

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Two Cowlitz Towns Considering Cop Who Resigns

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This article was in The Daily News on Sun, Feb 03,2002

2 Cowlitz towns considering cop who resigned
By Bonnie J. Yocum

A former Longview police officer who was forced to
resign after a tenure sullied by on-duty sexual
encounters and other indiscretions is applying for
police jobs in Woodland and Castle Rock.

Longview Police Chief Bob Burgreen called for Kevin
Chaufty's resignation a year ago after a woman
complained to the department that the officer had
solicited her telephone number during a traffic
stop.

Burgreen confirmed that when department officials
threatened to investigate all of his traffic stops
involving women, Chaufty handed in a resignation
letter.

The chief reprimanded Chaufty for putting fellow
officers at risk, but he and members of the department
have encouraged other agencies to hire him.

While Woodland Police Chief Grover Laseke and Castle
Rock Chief Bob Heuer say they would consider Chaufty
for jobs in their departments, other area agencies
have turned the officer down.

Chief Tim Hopkin of the La Center, Wash., Police
Department said when he denied Chaufty's application
last year, the officer's history "was a
consideration."

"He didn't pass the background. He wasn't successful
in our testing process," the chief said. "There's an
integrity and honesty situation that
needs to be addressed."

Chaufty, of Longview, also was turned down by the
Vancouver Police Department.

He declined to comment for this story. A Longview
Police Department internal affairs investigation found
that Chaufty, who joined the department in 1997,
had sexual dalliances with at least two women while
he was on duty in November 1998 and January 1999.
While the women denied Chaufty was on duty
when he visited their homes or workplaces, the
officer admitted to department investigators that he
was on the clock during two visits.

According to city records, Chaufty traveled outside
city limits in his patrol car to meet one of the
women. As discipline for the two on-duty
rendezvous, Chief Burgreen suspended Chaufty for two
days without pay.

In April 1999, an officer in charge of Chaufty's
shift noted Chaufty's unmanned patrol car parked
outside a Longview residence three nights in a
row, the documents said. On the third night, when
Chaufty was late in responding to a call, he admitted
to the officer in charge that he had been visiting
with an emergency dispatcher.

Burgreen said Chaufty's liaisons put police, and the
public, in danger. In a notice of suspension in
Chaufty's personnel file, Burgreen wrote that
certain incidents "were potentially dangerous to
your fellow officers. While you were engaging in
sexual activities with each of the women, you were not
able to immediately respond to or cover your fellow
officers."

Despite Chaufty's background, department members have encouraged
outside
agencies to hire him. Burgreen would not confirm that he had spoken
with
Laseke or Heuer, but the two chiefs said they had
received positive recommendations for Chaufty.

Laseke said he spoke with several people from the
Longview Police Department about Chaufty, and Burgreen
told him "he was a good police officer and really knew
his stuff and knew how to get the job done."

Burgreen said, "If someone called me and talked to
me about any former employee, I would tell them what I
felt. But I really wouldn't want to broadcast what
that was because I'm not required to release that
conversation."

"I don't believe that just because a person makes a
mistake, it should haunt them for the rest of their
life," the chief said.

"Kevin Chaufty in many ways was a fine officer with
a high level of experience and high motivation,"
Burgreen said. "I never had a problem with
the quality of his police work. If his other
problems can be put behind him, could he be a good
police officer? That would be conjecture, but we have
to guess on every applicant, and that would be up to
the chief considering him to make that decision."

Chief Laseke said he is aware of Chaufty's background.
For the past two months, Chaufty has volunteered
part-time as a reserve officer in the Woodland Police Department. Chaufty's troubles as a Longview officer would not necessarily disqualify him from the running for an officer opening in Woodland, Laseke said.
"I'm not going to reject someone specifically
because of that," he said.

When Laseke accepted Chaufty as a reserve officer --
a job in which Chaufty has all the authority of a paid
officer -- the chief said, "I knew that there was a
problem. ... But we made a determination that ... we
were willing to give him a chance to do what he had to
do to get things straightened around."

To hire Chaufty as a full-time officer, Laseke said
he would "have to feel comfortable that undesirable
behaviors aren't going to be something that I'm
going to see. ... I wouldn't have put him on (as a
reserve) if I didn't think that he would do a good
job.

"If I thought there was going to be a problem, he
wouldn't be here." "Gee whiz," Laseke said. "If a guy
or a gal has learned from their mistakes,
then we might give a person a chance at that."
Castle Rock's Chief Heuer said, "I've had people
that have told me that they thought (Chaufty) was a
good officer (and) thought he needed a second
chance, but I'm not going to disclose who it was.
They told me that in confidentiality."

Heuer said the department has two officer openings,
and Chaufty is second on a list of two names for those positions. He said he expects to investigate
Chaufty's background within the next three months.
Meanwhile, he said, he doesn't want to talk about
Chaufty's personnel file because he hasn't read it.
Heuer said he met Chaufty briefly in summer 2001.
"He seemed like a nice young man," he said.

Burgreen said it's not unusual for police chiefs to
hire castoffs from other departments.
"When I was (police chief) in San Diego, there was
another agency in the region who ... hired a great
number of people that we fired in San Diego, and that
was the kind of officer they wanted ... the officers
that were very involved but made mistakes."

"Let's face it," Burgreen said. "We hire people and
we don't get anybody down here who hasn't made a
mistake. We do a thorough background check, and
it's just a question of, 'Have their mistakes been
so bad that we can't hire them?' Because we're not
hiring angels. We're hiring human beings."





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