WOODLAND, Wash. (KOIN 6) — A Woodland police detective says he is being retaliated against by his own department after complaining about another office abusing his power and being sexually inappropriate on the job.
The tort claim filed on behalf of Woodland Police Detective Dave Plaza lists at least 15 different claims against now Interim Woodland Police Chief Brad Gillaspie and Woodland Mayor Grover Laseke for failing to act and retaliating when Plaza learned about the incidences.
“It wasn’t a solitary event. These are things he did on a regular basis,” said Plaza.
Plaza told KOIN 6 the seven-page tort claim explains how on more than one occasion Gillaspie took cell phones belonging to underage sex abuse victims and searched through sexual images on those devices. According to Plaza, Gillaspie did so without a warrant or having any involvement in the cases.
Plaza said it happened enough that Woodland officers started making sure phones that may have sexual content were locked up, so Gillaspie could not access them.
“He’s made inappropriate sexual comments to employees of local businesses and to just females he’s come across at some of those businesses,” said Plaza.
For years, Plaza said he and other officers raised concerns about Gillaspie’s misconduct, but when nothing was done, Plaza took his concerns to the mayor during a department-wide review last fall. However, his efforts appeared to backfire, as Gillaspie was promoted to interim police chief.
Shortly after that, I’m faced with ridiculous accusations that I’m a thief. I’ve been in this business for 27 years – I have never been accused of this,” said Plaza.
Plaza said he is accused of failing to log a receipt for a free digital camera, which he received from a homeland security training session. He’s now been placed on leave while being investigated for the theft.
“Obviously, it’s an attempt to censor me and in retaliation for me pointing out thing they didn’t want to have pointed out,” said Plaza.
When asked about the claims, Laseke declined to comment on employee disciplinary matters, but he did say his review of the Woodland Police Department did not find any major problems.
Laseke also maintained that Gillaspie was the best choice for the interim police chief position.
The city was served the tort claim on Thursday and has 60 days to evaluate it. Following those 60 days, legal action could be taken.
Washington State Police said they are also investigating the claims.