Jeffrey Chen, under consideration for the position of Lebanon police chief, was fired as Medina, Wash., chief on April 27, 2011.
The action followed a four-month investigation, during which Chen, 50, was on administrative leave.
The investigator, Ellen K. Lenhart, looked into allegations that Chen gained unauthorized access to the city’s secure system of archived emails, used city funds improperly, and occasionally canceled traffic tickets written by officers, sometimes destroying the ticket.
In a written refutation of the charges against him, Chen maintained his access to the secure computer system was authorized, and he had the right as police chief to void tickets that had not yet been sent to court.
He said he was authorized to make purchases for the department and did so according to the accepted process.
He said he returned items purchased with city funds, including two jackets that were in his emergency preparedness bag, kept at his home, to the city.
Lenhart also reviewed Chen’s resignation on Dec. 17, 2010, which he said was forced by Medina city manager Donna Hanson. She said it was not.
The investigator concluded that “compelling facts” supported Hanson.
On Dec. 27, 2010, Chen returned to the police department and rescinded his resignation. He was put on administrative leave later the same day.
In his response to city actions, Chen accused Hanson of being racially biased against him.
He also objected to the city’s reliance on Lenhart’s investigation and called the process a witch hunt.
In December 2011, Chen filed a civil rights suit in federal court, claiming racial discrimination by the city of Medina, the city manager and others. The filing was amended on Feb. 2, 2012.
According to the Seattle Weekly, the case could go to trial in February 2013 if a settlement is not reached before then.
In the suit, Chen asks for compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, reinstatement to his position as Medina police chief or an amount equal to lost future wages, and other relief.
Chen worked for the Medina Police Department for 10 years, starting on June 1, 2001, as captain and being promoted to chief on Feb. 1, 2004.
Chen previously worked for 13 years at the Seattle Police Department.
According to Seattlepi.com, an online newspaper, when Chen left the Seattle Police Department, he was being investigated for billing the city for a room at a Las Vegas conference when the hotel had given him a complimentary room.
The Lebanon Express found Lenhart’s 26-page report and 80 pages of backup material online at bellevue.patch.com/articles/medina-releases-documents-pertaining-to-chief-jeffrey-chens-termination. Look for attachments labeled three pdfs.
Chen’s response to the Medina investigation and the city manager is online at: seattletimes.nwsource.com/ABPub/2011/05/13/2015050138.pdf.
His amended suit can be found at blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2012/03/ex-chief_jeff_chens_amended_la.php.