By Rikki King
We just posted a lengthy story about seven internal investigations conducted at the Lake Stevens Police Department regarding two officers since 2009. (Read it.)
The story has been in the making for roughly two months. Nearly 900 pages of documents were released today. Several of us were poring over them all morning.
On Jan. 7, I also spent roughly an hour at City Hall interviewing City Administrator Jan Berg and Dan Lorentzen, the Lake Stevens police commander who is serving as interim chief. Our conversation covered a range of topics, good and bad. Much of the information from that interview better fits another story for another day.
Berg and Lorentzen said changes are coming at the department, and they’re trying to move forward from this troubling chapter.
Lorentzen said he’s told officers who’ve complained about the media attention that the department “can’t apologize for bad behavior.”
Meanwhile, since we initially started writing about the allegations of misbehavior by officers Steve Warbis and James Wellington, lots of folks have called and emailed with comments and suggestions for future coverage.
Here is one sub-point that didn’t make today’s story.
We didn’t rush to print the matter because, as is hopefully now apparent, there were more important leads to pursue.
Some people in the community have raised concerns about a business partnership between Warbis and Lorentzen. State business licensing records list the two as co-owners of a limited liability company.
They are not in “direct business” anymore, Lorentzen told The Herald Jan. 7. They still own some properties together because they’ve been unable to sell since the economic downturn, he said.
They have not bought any new properties together in a long time, Berg said Friday.
Warbis’ sergeant knows about the matter, and Lorentzen is not involved in deciding Warbis’ wages and benefits, Berg said.
In recent years the commander position hasn’t had a lot to do with internal discipline decisions, Berg said. That’s not to say Lorentzen has been absent from the mix. His name shows up repeatedly in the documents we reviewed today about Warbis and Wellington.
Internal discipline no doubt will get a close look — with outside help — as the department reviews its operations and policies in preparation for hiring a new chief.
Former chief Randy Celori knew about the property owned by Lorentzen and Warbis when Warbis was hired, Lorentzen said.
“We do everything to make sure there’s no conflict of interest,” he said.