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Both sides damaged by police guild’s allegations | IN OUR OPINION
Bainbridge Island Police Chief Jon Fehlman received a partial vindication this week, after an outside review found that there was scant evidence to support the long list of alleged misdeeds and claims of malfeasance that was leveled by the Bainbridge Island Police Guild.
Total vindication, however, was never possible here.
The allegations themselves, made by a union that itself has seemed stained by mistakes, missteps and simply calls of bad judgement in recent years, were damaging enough.
On Tuesday, the day the investigative report on the union’s claims were released, Fehlman stepped down without comment. He had previously said, during the aftermath of the Ostling civil rights trial, that the union’s claims and vote of “no confidence” had destroyed his career.
If the police guild is viewing Fehlman’s departure as a victory, the union’s leaders and members are again sadly mistaken.
There are no winners in this case.
While the departing chief’s standing has surely been soiled by the union’s attempts to have him removed from his job, so too has the reputation of the Bainbridge Island Police Guild been irreparably damaged.
The allegations raised by the guild, some made without evidence or basis in fact, have left some in the community to wonder about the honesty, competency and professionalism of Bainbridge police.
As Fehlman was judged based on the actions of his department, so too will the city’s police officers be judged by the actions of their guild and their union leaders.