City Manager Don Cooper has suspended two Yakima police officers for improperly using a City credit card while they were at a training class and a third officer for including inaccurate information in a search warrant affidavit. All three officers were potentially facing termination.

During separate disciplinary hearings last Monday, Officer Chad Urwin and Officer Ryan Urlacher admitted to Cooper that they used a City credit card to buy not only food but also to buy beer at restaurants when they attended a firearms instructor training class together in Spokane in June of this year. It is against City policy to buy alcohol with a City funds.

Cooper has issued a one-week suspension without pay to both officers and has ordered them to reimburse the City for the cost of the beer, which was purchased at restaurants including Boston Pizza and Hooter’s. Cooper determined the violation of the City’s credit card policy by Urwin and Urlacher was more likely the result of confusion over the policy rather than a specific intent to violate it.

As a result of a disciplinary hearing that took place last Tuesday, Cooper has issued a one-month suspension without pay to Officer Gary Garza after Cooper determined that Garza included incomplete, inaccurate, and potentially false information in a search warrant affidavit he submitted in February of this year. During Tuesday’s hearing, Garza admitted that his work on the affidavit was “sloppy”.

“Officer Garza made a serious mistake in not exercising the appropriate level of care in completing the search warrant affidavit,” said Cooper. “This kind of violation of proper procedure could have led to Officer Garza being fired. However, I did not find evidence of intentional wrongdoing by Officer Garza,” said Cooper. “So instead, I have imposed a 30-day suspension without pay, which sends a clear message that not following proper procedure, whether purposefully or due to inattention, will lead to significant discipline.”

In the notifications of disciplinary action provided to each of the three officers, Cooper made it clear that any future violations of City or Yakima Police Department (“YPD”) policies, rules, or procedures by Urwin, Urlacher, or Garza will result in termination.

Garza has been an officer with the YPD since 1988. Urwin joined the department in 2003 after having served for several years with the Wapato Police Department. Urlacher has been a YPD officer since 2006, but also was a Washington State Patrol trooper before that.

“All three of these officers have a lot of experience in law enforcement and are valuable members of the YPD,” said Acting Police Chief Greg Copeland. “Absolutely they made mistakes. But the officers also admitted their mistakes and took responsibility for them. That’s to be admired,” said Copeland. “I’m confident that these three officers have learned important lessons from these experiences and I’m pleased that the YPD and the community will continue to benefit from their service.”