Resigning Wapato police blame major problems on city administrator

WAPATO -- A group of senior police officers from Wapato have resigned and sent a scathing letter criticizing City Administrator Juan Orozco and saying he has put the entire community in danger.

The letter is signed by a police sergeant, four other police officers, and five corrections officers who say they have all recently left the Wapato Police Department.

The letter says since Juan Orozco was elected as mayor the Wapato Police Department has lost 14 employees and that during the same time the department has only been able to recruit, test, and hire one full time police officer and one support person.

The authors of the letter say that Wapato is now only protected by one sergeant, a detective, two full-time police officers, and one temporary provisional officer. The letter says, "This level of staffing will not support safe 24-hour-police coverage for the City of Wapato. The staffing levels places the citizens of Wapato and the police officers in a highly dangerous situation."

Orozco is accussed of making multiple efforts to threaten, harass, and intimidate employees of the Wapato Police Department. Those who wrote the letter also say Orozco attempts to use the members of the Wapato Police Department as his "personal enforcers".

The police officers who have resigned say they did so because they were forced into making unethical decisions, and feared they would be fired for refusing an unlawful or unethical order.

The group also criticizes Juan Orozco's appointment to City Administrator after resigning as mayor. They believe his 7 year contract paying $95k a year with a $500 monthly stipend and take home Yukon Denali is illegal and should be invalidated by the State of Washington.

The letter was signed by Police Sergeant Larry Ehrhardt, Police Officer Randy Sperle, Police Officer Jacob Murphy, Corrections Sergeant Keilen Harmon, Corrections Officer Karlo Stephas, Corrections Officer Louis Santana, Correction/Res. Police Ofc. Ray Hernandez, Corrections Officer Esteban Salas, Police Officer Andreas Eismann, and Correction Officer Nicholas Nanez.

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