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Wash. officer alleges he was denied promotion over pink shoes

Officer Jeremy Vahle claims his chief denied his promotion in part because of the pink shoes he wore while in uniform


By PoliceOne Staff

PIERCE CO., Wash. — A Washington police officer who uncovered a theft from the memorial fund  for the families of four slain officers claims that he can’t get promoted because of pink shoes he wore to work.

KIRO 7 reports that Officer Jeremy Vahle filed a lawsuit against the city of Lakewood over the issue. The suit alleges that Chief Mike Zaro misused civil-service rules to deny the officer’s promotion to sergeant in part because of the pink shoes he wore to work.

Pictured is Officer Jeremy Vahle. (Photo/Lakewood PD)
Pictured is Officer Jeremy Vahle. (Photo/Lakewood PD)

Vahle wore the shoes while negotiating a uniform allowance to cover the costs of work boots. It was a protected act during bargaining negotiations, Vahle’s attorney said.

The suit alleges that Vahle was passed over for promotion by people who were ranked lower than him on the civil service list. City code requires the top three people on each list should be considered for the promotion.

In 2012, Vahle, a 13-year officer, disclosed a former officer’s theft of $112,000 from the memorial fund set up for the families of four cops who were killed at a coffee shop in 2009. Vahle claims he has been retaliated against for blowing the whistle in that case..

A city spokeswoman said that the city “stands behind its sergeant-selection process and the resulting promotions” and didn’t provide any further comment.

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