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Police guild gives Chief Fehlman 'vote of no confidence'
The Bainbridge Island Police Guild has taken a "vote of no confidence" in the leadership of Bainbridge Police Chief Jon Fehlman and has asked the mayor to remove the chief from his post, the union announced Tuesday.
The vote was taken Monday, June 11. The guild announced its vote in a press release Tuesday and on the union's website.
In a statement on the guild website, members said they were frustrated at how the department was being run.
"This vote was not taken lightly or for cavalier reasons," the guild said.
"The guild has tried all available options, short of this no confidence vote, to resolve the problem; city leaders have been informed, unfair labor practices filed, and all attempts to work collaboratively have been ineffective – to date all attempts have been rebuffed or ignored."
Guild officials said its members — which include officers and lieutenants - "are routinely disregarded through ignorance, arrogance or political expediency on the part of those who run the department and the city."
The guild has hand-delivered a letter to Mayor Debbi Lester, which cites poor management decisions, a lack of leadership and alleged violations of department/city policies and possibly state and federal law, according to the press release.
“Jon Fehlman was appointed chief in early 2009 and since that time the department has steadily deteriorated in terms of morale, performance, vision and most damaging, our integrity and the perception of the department’s officers by the public,” said Lt. Bob Day, guild president.
The "vote of no confidence" comes less than two weeks after a jury found the city of Bainbridge Island and Fehlman liable in the death of Doug Ostling, who was shot and killed by a Bainbridge Police officer in October 2010 after police responded to a 911 call at the Ostling family home.
The jury awarded the Ostling family and estate a total of $1 million. Fehlman, who has been on leave from the department for health reasons, did not testify during the civil rights trial.