Sunnyside tight-lipped about interim police chief

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Sunnyside's decision to fire its interim police chief , a move confirmed to KIMA Action News by city councilmembers, has gone without any public explanation.

"What do you think about the city's decision to fire its top law enforcement and not explain anything to taxpayers?" KIMA asked.

"I think the taxpayers have the right to know why the man is being released of his job," said taxpayer Rebecca Dixon. "And, because he was doing a lot to helping the crime and gangs."

Sunnyside Interim City Manager Frank Sweet handed Schenck his pink slip this week, according to Sunnyside city councilmembers. KIMA's repeated calls to Sweet were never returned.

When Action News went to City Hall, we were told Sweet wasn't available until the afternoon. When we went back he was still unavailable.

Sunnyside's human resources department says the city won't discuss Schenck's termination because it's a personnel matter.

Taxpayers feel it's a public matter.

"It was shocking because I felt like it was a letdown for Sunnyside," said Paula Lemos.

Neighbors we spoke with were happy with Schenck and his efforts to fight crime and fix the city's tarnished image.

"Who knew that he was going to get fired and why did he get fired?" said Ernesto Martinez.

Action News tried calling Schenck but our calls were never returned.

However, we did get through to Sunnyside City Councilmember Theresa Hancock.

She said Schenck's termination wasn't unexpected and believes past city managers also had issues with Schenck, particularly with police department spending, though Hancock couldn't give an official reason.

"The public should be open and given answers as well," said Savanna Schlosser.

For now, Sunnyside decided it won't explain to taxpayers why the city's top officer was kicked off the force.

KIMA tried to contact Sunnyside's mayor and several other council members but our calls were not returned.

A human resources employee said the city would respond to our requests within the next five days.

Sunnyside City Council will discuss Schenck's termination in executive session on Monday.