Special Reports

City manager can't ignore Brame case

Serious allegations of misconduct have been made against Tacoma Police Chief David Brame by his estranged wife.

At this point, the most important thing the citizens of Tacoma should keep in mind is that Brame's wife, Crystal, recently made the allegations in the context of a messy, bitter divorce case. In such cases, spouses often trade nasty, unfounded accusations.

No one knows whether the allegations against Brame are true. Crystal Brame has not filed a formal complaint against Brame with the police department or city officials. The two sides are trading accusations within the confines of a civil divorce proceeding. Chief Brame denies his wife's allegations. So far, it is a murky "she said, he said" situation.

The diffficulty of ascertaining the truth is why we only now come to the details of Mrs. Brame's allegations. She claims in court papers that last fall, Brame physically abused her by attempting to choke her. She also alleged that Brame pointed his service revolver at her last month and said, "Accidents happen." Brame, in turn, accuses his wife of physically attacking him in earlier incidents and claims he has photos of his injuries to prove it.

Brame's boss, City Manager Ray Corpuz, says the dispute is a civil matter; he sees no reason to get involved. Corpuz is wrong.

Tacoma's police chief has been accused of criminal conduct: threatening his wife with a weapon and physically abusing her. It is true that Mrs. Brame has filed no formal complaints against her husband, nor has she sought an official protective order common in domestic violence cases. She sought only a temporary restraining order of the type that is routinely granted in hostile divorce cases. She seeks financial support and the use of the family home, among other things.

Nonetheless, Mrs. Brame's accusation leaves a cloud hanging over the city's top law enforcement officer. The divorce case may drag on for months. Corpuz should ask another law enforcement agency to investigate her allegations.

There may well be no way to resolve who is telling the truth. An investigation could be inconclusive. That sort of finding may be the closest Chief Brame will ever come to clearing his name.

This is horrible for the Brame family, having the breakup of their marriage played out in the public eye. It is terrible for their two children, ages 5 and 8. We wish we didn't have to know.

But Mrs. Brame's accusation hangs in the air. The city manager and the citizens of Tacoma can't ignore it. Investigate. It is the fairest thing to do, not only for Brame and his wife, but also for the citizens who can only be bewildered and dismayed by this turn of events.