Special Reports

The Brame Investigation: Conclusions and recommendations

After six months of investigation by the Washington State Patrol, Attorney General Christine Gregoire found nothing that could be prosecuted as a crime.

Specifically, Gregoire and her assistants concluded:

• The Patrol investigated whether assistant police chief Catherine Woodard trespassed when she visited Crystal Brame's family's house with David Brame on April 11. Conclusion: Woodard had never been told that the family did not want her to visit the house, so there was no prosecutable crime.

• The Patrol investigated whether Woodard harassed Crystal Brame by accompanying David Brame to a divorce hearing and going to her parents' house on April 11. Conclusion: Woodard "demonstrated extremely poor judgment" but broke no laws.

• The Patrol investigated whether Woodard and other members of the Police Department failed to investigate Crystal Brame's domestic violence allegations. Conclusion: No criminal laws were broken, though there is evidence of misconduct.

Though nothing will be prosecuted as a crime, Gregoire said internal, administrative investigations could result in punishment and even firings.

Gregoire's six recommendations:

• The city and Tacoma Police Department should call for an administrative, internal investigation of Woodard and other members of the department. The investigation would make recommendations for discipline and/or firings. Status: City officials have agreed to the investigation.

• That review should be done by an independent law enforcement agency. Gregoire recommended the Washington State Patrol, because it already has done so much work. Status: City officials have asked the Patrol to conduct the investigation.

• The Police Department needs clear policies regarding when to treat complaints as an internal matter rather than a criminal matter. If the department has a policy of policing its own, according to investigators, "it is a bad practice, and it obviously has not worked." Status: A police spokesman said Monday that the department has not yet decided how to address that recommendation.

• The Washington State Auditor should investigate the Police Department's payroll and timekeeping practices. Investigators were concerned there wasn't enough accountability in record keeping. Status: The auditor has agreed to investigate as part of a regular city audit.

• There should be an independent review of the Police Department's hiring and promotional procedures, because those procedures led to Brame becoming chief. The review should ensure that errors made during his career are not repeated. Status: That's one subject of the investigation by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

• The Police Department must work with the community to develop new policies regarding abusive law enforcement officers, and those policies must be supported at every level of the department. Status: Department representatives of varying ranks already are working with a community group on a new policy regarding abusive officers.

Lisa Kremer, The News Tribune

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