A tale of political favoritism and why Oak Harbor needed a change in its leadership

Author:Cliff Howard

This is a story that has been uncovered by citizens of Oak Harbor. A story of political favoritism that should shed some daylight on what many in Oak Harbor sometimes refer to as the “good ol’ boy” network.

The length and depth to which the good ol’ boy network in Oak Harbor will go in their political endeavors are certainly troubling. We have seen other examples of these endeavors in the recent past, such as when Mayor Jim Slowik walked into a store in downtown Oak Harbor and stole a political sign out of the window of a local merchant. Then, when the merchant complained about the theft the merchant was threatened with prosecution by Oak Harbor Chief of Police Rick Wallace. You can read about that black eye to Oak Harbor in a previous post here on Island Politics.

The specific issue being brought to light now arose during a heated political campaign in which incumbent Mayor Jim Slowik was running for re-election against Scott Dudley

The documentation shows City of Oak Harbor Police Detective Tony Slowik accessed an official use only law enforcement database LInX, using not his own, but another detectives password 22 times for 65 searches. Thirty-one of which pertained to Dudley or his family, and one of Detective Slowik’s own family too.

These searches did not all happen on just one day but over several days. One must wonder if what he was doing could pass the ethical test, why he didn’t use his own password.  If he had forgotten his, all he had to do was let the proper person know and a new one would have been issued to him immediately.

While it is certainly understandable that a son would want his father to win an election, using the confidential resources available to him because of his position as a law enforcement officer could certainly been seen as unethical at best and illegal at worst.

As if that were not enough, a lock on filing cabinet in yet another Detective’s office was broken and files were mixed together and out of order. Detective Slowick said he might have broken the lock it when he tried to gain access to it. One of the searches he ran was the name of Scott Dudley’s ex wife Maia Dudley which was contained in the broken into filing cabinet. One wonders what he might have been trying to find.

One must also wonder why after viewing all the evidence at his disposal, which is linked here for you to see, Chief of Police Jim Wallace decided that the proper discipline for these infractions was “forfeiture of 10 hours of vacation time off”.

When other police departments were queried about what discipline might be meted out for this kind of behavior, the responses were anywhere from letters in the personnel file making the perpetrator ineligible for advancement, to suspension, to termination of employment. No one said vacation time off. In typical good ol boy fashion Detective Slowick, son of then Mayor Slowick receives the equivalent of a slap on the wrist.

Would any other OHPD personnel been given such benefit of the doubt? Or would a full on investigation been pursued with perhaps referral to the prosecutor?  Was this just an example of Chief Wallace being easy on his troops or did favoritism rule the day? If Chief Wallace did in fact treat all infractions within the department with such an easy hand, perhaps it is one of the reasons Mayor Dudley wanted him gone.

Only those involved can answer these questions, but this writer believes that Chief Wallace essentially closed the investigation, meted out little-to-no punishment and also failed to investigate further the issue with the broken filing cabinet and access to the name “Maie Trout/Dudley” Scott Dudley’s ex wife which was also one of the names accessed on the LInX system.

However perhaps because of the good ol’ boy network, there was very little punishment meted out upon the offender who broke the trust we all expect from officers of the law. Political favoritism appeared to rule the day in this whole affair. If the punishment meted out is any indication as to how Chief Wallace ran his department it should cause citizens of Oak Harbor to pause and reflect on why Chief Wallace was replaced by our new Mayor Scott Dudley.

I do not know if this issue had anything to do with our Mayor replacing the Police Chief but as you can see in the documentation below it certainly would have given the Mayor good cause if he even had knowledge of it.

Chief Wallace essentially condoned a direct personal attack and an invasion of privacy upon Scott Dudley and his family by a City of Oak Harbor Police Department employee, an employee who just also happened to be the son of the sitting mayor, during an election campaign, and while using the confidential resources of the City of Oak Harbor to do so, and these actions pretty much went completely undisciplined by the Chief Rick Wallace.

The history is pretty clear on the issue of Mayor Slowik taking a sign from a Pioneer Way storefront followed by Chief Rick Wallace doing everything in his power to bend or distort the law to protect Mayor Slowik, and now we apparently also have a history wherein Chief Rick Wallace also gave a “get out of jail card” to Mayor Slowik’s son.

Definitions used in the information below:

LInX= The Law Enforcement Information Exchange is an electronic criminal justice information sharing system containing crime and incident data from various Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies. LINX is for official use only and is overseen by Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).
Link to Det. Slowiks signed LiNX agreement

FITLIST= The FITLIST email group is a network for Law Enforcement investigators for Fraud Investigations. Officers sign an agreement not to use this sensitive law enforcement information and agree to not use it for any purpose other than lawful uses. The State of Washington has specific laws which criminalize or provide civil liability for misuse/unauthorized dissemination of LInX information.

Onto the evidence:
CLICK HERE FOR INVESTIGATION 1
CLICK HERE FOR INVESTIGATION 2

On August 5, 2011, the Oak Harbor Police Department received a request from the Tacoma Police Department “to respond to 184 NW Delta Court, and drive by the residence to obtain license numbers of any vehicles parked in the driveway. The subjects of interest were: Brian Decker or Devere Scott Dudley”. OHPD responded and closed the call.

On August 10, 2011, another email was received from the Tacoma Police Department “requesting similar photographs of two attached photographs of Devere Scott Dudley and his wife Christine Marie Dudley”. 

On August 10, 2011, Oak Harbor Police Sgt. Gardner called a meeting with Detectives Slowik, Seim, and Hoagland, advising them of these requests from the Tacoma PD. “Sgt. Gardner ordered Slowik, Seim and Hoagland not to do anything with the information” from Tacoma and “that the information was not to be shared”.

(As it turned out, these requests from the Tacoma Police department were actually about a different subject with a name similar to Devere Scott Dudley (i.e. Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley. The person for whom the Tacoma police were searching had the name “Darrel Scott Dudley” and he also just happened to also have a girlfriend named “Christine”. This combination was enough for the Tacoma PD to request further information on both “Devere Scott Dudley” and his wife, Christine, who were both subsequently shown not to be persons for whom the Tacoma PD was searching. In any case, these inquiries from the Tacoma PD were a legitimate effort on their part in order to determine whether or not the two “Dudley’s” were one and the same. They were not the same person, and this should have been the end of the story. But it was not. Click here for the Explanation from the Tacoma Police Department)

On August 23, 2011 Oak Harbor Police Lieutenant Sterkel ordered an audit of the Oak Harbor Police Department’s LInX system, which is used by the police department to run background checks, criminal record checks and checks for outstanding warrants etc.

One item which the audit discovered was that Oak Harbor Police Detective Hofkamp had run “Devere Dudley” through the LInX system on August 22, 2011. On questioning Detective Hofkamp about this, he admitted to having used the LInX system to search for “Devere Dudley” on August 22, 2011, and he claimed that had been the only time at which he had ran that name through the system.  Detective Hofkamp claimed not to have done so at any other time, including when he had been on vacation, from July 22, 2011 through search August 20, 2011 – two days before the LInX search took place on August 22 2011. This audit also noted the use of Detective Hofkamp’s LInX system password on July 5 2011, in order to search for a person with the name of “Daniel Hofkamp”.

On the morning of August 26, 2011, Oak Harbor Police Detective Slowik advised Lieutenant Sterkel that he possibly broken the lock on a filing cabinet that contains CPS referrals. The filing cabinet was located in Detective Gardner’s office and contains CPS referral information. In that filing cabinet there is a file on Devere Dudley son of Devere Scott Dudley candidate for mayor. One of the names in that file is Maie Trout. Lt. Gardner explains in her report that she had previously requested that all Detectives were to leave CPS reports on her chair for filing and that the filing cabinet was locked from that point on.

On the afternoon of August 26, 2011 the Hofkamp password was used to check the name Maie Dudley according to the LInX audit.

On August 29, 2011, when Detective Gardner returned to work, she looked in the CPS file and noticed the 2010 and 2011 referrals were out of order and mixed together.

On September 1, 2011 Lt Sterkel ordered Detective Hofkamp to change his LInX password which he did. On September 2, 2011 Detective Slowik sent a request to the LInX administrator requesting that his password be reset which it was.

A Professional Affairs Investigation was started on 9-9-2011
Click here for Professional Affairs Investigation document

On September 9 2012 Detective Gardner started an investigation. In that investigation, Detective Slowik admitted that he used Detective Hokamps password to access the LInX system for information on his own cases. It was also admitted by Detective Slowik that he did access the system to search for information on Scott Dudley the candidate for Mayor but he states that he did not do anything with the information that he may have discovered.

Detective Gardner went through the list of names that had been accessed with Detective Hofkamp’s password. Several names were noted that were not related to current OHPD cases. Those were “Maie Dudley”, “Rick Dozier” and several iterations of “Devere Scott Dudley” and “Christine Dudley”. Detective Slowik admitted to searching in LInX for “Rick Dozier”. Rick Dozier is Detective Slowik’s brother-in-law, and Detective Slowik also admitted to having searched for information on the candidate for Mayor, Scott Dudley, and his wife. Detective Slowik did not, however, admit to having run, at any time, the name “Maie Dudley” through the LInX system.

Detective Slowik used Detective Hokamp’s password 22 times for 65 searches, which are as follows:

• 23 pertained to Devere Dudley/Devere Scott Dudley/Scott Dudley/Dudley/De Dudley
• 7 pertained to Christine Dudley/CH Dudley
• 3 pertained to Brian Decker
• 1 pertained to Tacoma
• 1 pertaining to Maie Dudley
• 1 pertaining to Rick Dozier
• 29 pertained to work related searches.

After the interview, Detective Slowik was ordered to provide a Written Statement. In the statement, Detective Slowik wrote the following:
Click here for Det. Slowiks Statement

• He stated that he had been ordered by Detective Gardner “not to do anything else” about the FITLIST posting.
• He stated that he used Detective Hofkamp’s LInX password without Detective Hofkamp’s permission;
• He stated that he searched the names of Devere S. and Christine Dudley;
• He stated that he continued to search the Dudley’s names in LInX until 08-26-11;
• He stated that he did not find out any information from these searches;
• He stated that he did not pass on any information;
• He stated that he used LInX to search the name of Ricky Dozier, his brother-in-law, for personal use;
• He stated that he has not talked with anyone outside the police department about the e-mail (FITLIST);
• He stated that he has not shared the (FITLIST) information with his family or members of the community;
• He stated that he has not contacted the Tacoma Police Department or asked anyone else to do so

In all, officers of the Oak Harbor Police Department performed two investigations: one was performed by Detective Gardner and one by Lt. Sterkel. The information and time line above are generated from those reports.

Det Gardner concluded in her report on 10-19-2011:
Click here for Det. Gardners report 

The information gained during this Internal Investigation substantiated the initial summary of the complaint against Detective Slowik for the following:
• Unauthorized Personal use of the LInX Data System (36 counts)
• Insubordination (35 counts)
• Unauthorized use of another officers username and password (22 counts)
• CPS FILE/OHPD CALL- An unanswered question during this investigation was how Detective Slowik came to run the name “Maie Dudley” on 8-26-11. Detective Slowik told me that he did not run the name and then said he didn’t remember where he got the name. There is a report in my locked file cabinet in my office which contains the name “Maie Trout” and contained the name of (Devere) Scott Dudley. The 2007 report is also in the OHPD Spillman data base.

Lt. Sterkel concluded in his report on 10-21-11:
Click here for Lt. Sterkels Report

• Unauthorized Personal use of the LInX Data System. 36 counts–sustained
• Insubordination 35 counts–sustained
• Unauthorized use of another officers username and password, 22 counts—sustained
• STILL UNANSWERED QUESTIONS–How and why Tony Slowik ran the name of “Maie Dudley” on August 26, 2011. He stated that he did not run the name, and then he said he didn’t remember where he got the name. A report containing located in a locked file cabinet in Detective Gardner’s office contained the name “Maie Trout” and also contained the name “Devere Scott Dudley”.

The punishment by Chief Wallace

On November 1, 2011 a NOTICE TO EMPLOYEE OF DISPOSITION OF PROFESSIONAL AFFAIRS INVESTIGATION was sent to Detective Slowik from Chief of Police Rick Wallace.
Click here for Chief Wallace’s decision

The allegations were:

Unauthorized Computer Access

And the Findings were:

Substantiated

Chief Wallace wrote:

As a result of this finding, I have determined that a (1) day suspension without pay would be the appropriate discipline for this type of finding. HOWEVER, because of your previous years of excellent service to the Oak Harbor Police Department, I am reducing this to a forfeiture of one (10) hours of vacation time off.

——————-

Many thanks to all those that contributed to this article.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

36 comments

  1. avatar

    There is a lot of information here for me to digest. My first thoughts are that this is an excellent piece of investigative journalism which is just what we need here on the Island.

    1. avatar

      Jason thank you for your kind words. To be clear this was a collaborative effort from many people here on the Islands. Credit your fellow unnamed and unknown citizens for bringing this to light.

      1. avatar

        Good work to all involved, Sierra Hotel!

    2. avatar

      Most articles in this blog site are thoroughly reasearched unlike Whidbey’s local fish wrappers who simply parrot what ever is shoved under their noses. Case in point is the one sided conversation over the Oak Harbor school levy.

      1. avatar

        How do you feel about the school levy?

        1. avatar

          Bill Burnett researched this topic thoroughly.

          My thoughts: What is so amusing are the foolish residents voting YES under the pretense that throwing more money into the public school system equates to kids getting a better education. Private schools, on the other hand, are doing a far better job of educating our youth with less money. Why? Because if the school isn’t performing, then parents will take their money and kids elsewhere. I am very grateful that my parents were able to provide me and my four siblings with a private education while still paying tax dollars to support the substandard public education system.

          Property owners are on the hook for more taxes. Voting NO sends a powerful message, and forces the school board to make changes and try again.

  2. avatar

    Thanks you Jason for your kind words. To be clear this was a collaborative effort from many people here on the Islands. Credit your fellow unnamed and unknown citizens for bringing this to light.

  3. avatar

    This article is the perfect example why those in positions with access to sensitive information must always be above reproach and avoid any behavior that even hints at anything suspicious. Some might ask — what difference does it make if so-and-so accessed files, cases, used someone else’s password, etc.? How would you like your name searched within a criminal database just because the officer or detective might be bored, angry, hold a grudge, doesn’t like your attitude — the list is endless for reprehensible behavior like that. That’s not the worst of it. Any decent defense attorney will get that detective on the stand, in court, and use such illegal on the job activities to create doubt about anything the officer or detective has found or done while working on the perp’s case, and rightly so. Such a person would be considered untrustworthy, prone to falsehoods, with an unfortunate “bad” memory. This is why our police and deputies are required to be “clean” and not “dirty” cops. Otherwise, they taint everything they perform in their official duties. And “forfeit” one 10-hour vacation day as a punishment? Puh-leeze!

  4. avatar

    This is a very troubling and disturbing report, on numerous levels.

    In many organizations where employees have access to information about private citizens that is considered sensitive, such as in medical offices and hospitals where patient information resides in centralized databases, the simple act of providing one’s password to another employee mandates an automatic dismissal – regardless of the reason used to claim justification of breaking that rule.

    Moreover, in such organizations, using another person’s username and password to access such information is a similarly egregious act, and it is also an act that warrants immediate dismissal, with equally-zero tolerance for having done so.

    In reading about this case, these police detectives appear not only to have shared passwords and accessed sensitive information about people, but also appear to have done so to “cover” the tracks, by one or both persons involved.

    I find the fact that these self-track-covering police officers are still working, trusted (?) police detectives to be rather disturbing.

    Also, since former Oak Harbor mayor Jim Slowik is said to be planning to run again for mayor, this report makes that prospect even more troubling.

    On a related note, why has this issue never seen the light of day via our local so-called “news” paper?

  5. avatar

    I remember when Tony Slowik was a traffic cop passing out teen agers driving citations and keeping speeders in line. He stopped a friend of mine for having his license plate displayed on his dash of his new car from Ca
    It didn’t have a plate holder on the front. Must have been a slow day for Officer Tony; took him about an hour to check everything he could looking to detect a serious crime…No luck; my frind was finally excused with the warning to get the plate holder installed
    How’d he jump past all of those other traffic cops with more seniority and experience and suddenly become “DETECTIVE” Tony Slowik,
    He must have really impressed Chief Wallace and his Daddy with his superior capabilities to achieve super star recognition

  6. avatar

    Why is it we can not get this kind of investigative reporting from the Whidbey News Times?

    1. avatar

      Simply put, it is because they are a business and we are not. They do not want to be controversial they just want to sell advertising. They are here to support the community and sell advertising to that same community.
      I do believe they go too far in their controlling of the message and censuring commenter’s and opinions but that is their business.

      None of us here make any money from Island Politics, everything comes out of our pockets. We don’t have to worry about advertisers cutting us off because we are not politically correct.

      1. avatar

        “…None of us here make any money from Island Politics, everything comes out of our pockets…”
        Thanks for explaining this Cliff.
        I was wondering why we never got a paychack or W2 or reimbursed us when we submitted our expense accounts.
        I must call for a bored meeting about you

        ROFLMAO <(:-( )

      2. avatar

        “not politically correct” — ?? I’d say you are definitely politically correct. It’s the blue dogs who are the incorrect ones. I was recently horrified when Duh Hubs brought home the south island’s fishwrap-of-record. He said someone was about to throw it away and there might be coupons in it. There was one I actually wanted, so I forgave him, and we didn’t have to pay to line their leftie pockets. I can’t imagine anyone spending 75 cents for such tripe.

        And by the way, I thought the same thing as Jason, that this was excellent journalism. Yay for this web site and all who contribute articles and write for it. Thank you for your service.

        1. avatar

          “Politically Correct” is inaccuate. The correct adage might be “Politically Accurrate”

        2. avatar

          I suppose this depends on the working definition, which many have agreed upon as:

          “Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.”

      3. avatar

        Quite a few people I know won’t advertise in any of the local papers, because they will not support companies that simply exist for “news extra-lite” or just to sell ads.

  7. avatar

    ((-o-)) Shaking my head. And, Cliff, really … not politically correct? I sure like your brand of maverick!

  8. avatar

    Is this the same Officer Slowik who contributed to a 2012 citizen’s complaint alleging an unsafe gun range was operating in unincorporated Island County territory near West Beach Road? I believe I read that the Oak Harbor police officer had disputed the previous finding by the Island County Sheriff’s Office that the range was safe.

    Cliff, Thank You. Well done!

    1. avatar

      Good job Cliff and friends,
      Now if we can only get an actual internal investigation into the corrupt and rogue Island County planning / enforcement department, where there are absolutely no written rules, procedures, policies or training in place in how they deal with (or punish) the public they are supposed to serve.

      1. avatar

        We are working on it Mr Emerson, we are working on it…

      2. avatar

        Ken, I am a big fan of your wife, you Sir are a lucky man.

        What ideas do you have for fixing the planning dept? Seems to me that an outside hatchet man must come in and start busting the whole mess up. Of course any fix requires the departure of several “key” personnel.

        1. avatar

          Jason,
          You are correct on the first sentence and here are a few ideas.
          1. We need another commited commissioner
          2. The Planning department needs to be reminded that they are here to SERVE the public and not be just a punishment vehicle.
          3. There needs to be an established WRITTEN policy for all procedures,methods,enforcement, fines, postings, searches, training etc. Currently there is NONE. This needs to happen immediately to assure non-discrimination and consistency.
          4. All personel need to be on board or gone.
          5. The Planning Director needs to be accountable to the BOICC in creating and implementing policy and the policy needs to be PUBLISHED and FOLLOWED.
          6. Public input is mandatory.
          7. Special interests have to get in the same line as everyone else.
          8. Don’t do anything that you are not qualified for, seek qualified assistance.
          9. Island County Code needs to be updated, clarified and followed.

          1. avatar

            Ken, thank you for the detailed response. JJ must come on board or none of these reforms will happen. There are people whose civil rights are being violated but pursuing those types of claims through the courts, I fear, would be nearly impossible.

            1. avatar

              Jason, correct again. More Items”
              10 . We need for OUR planning department to respect property rights and to reverse their (unwritten)policy from a culture of NO you can’t to a YES you can policy while following necessary code, land use provisions.
              11. Citizen Complaint process needs to be clarified, updated and followed the same for everyone.
              12. “Right size” the staff and have “qualified staff”.
              13. Have a friendly department where citizens don’t have to fear interaction.

              1. avatar

                What has happened, in violation for the county code, is that every land use has become conditional. In other words subject to the whims of the planning dept.
                I have been through the gauntlet at planning though it has been some time. I did prevail but only after letting them know that I was willing to be locked up for my cause since my livelihood was a stake. Free food and medical care in jail you know.
                Now I have a fenced and razor-wired compound to keep them out.

                1. avatar

                  Problems are assured when those “whims” become politically driven or criminal.

  9. avatar

    Check, and add the Island County Department of money gobbling, non-impartial opinion, incompetent prosecution, and let’s make a deal justice.

  10. avatar

    The flow is missing something “On August 23, 2011 Oak Harbor Police Lieutenant Sterkel ordered an audit of the Oak Harbor Police Department’s LInX system”
    “On the afternoon of August 26, 2011 the Hofkamp password was used to check the name Maie Dudley according to the LInX audit.”

    Did LT Sterkel run another audit after the 26th that you didn’t list in your report? I didn’t follow any of the links so I could have missed it.

    1. avatar

      Mr Martin,
      Good question. The audit I have is for the dates July 5-2011 through September 1-2011. I am a little unsure if there was an initial audit and then a follow up? Or possibly the audit took that long to perform? Possibly an ongoing audit? The audit started on the 23 of August and included the dates from 7-5-2011 to 9-1-2011 so we would have to assume that it took that long to perform or it was an ongoing audit.
      That statement came from page 4 of (then) Lt Sterkels report.

  11. avatar

    When will this run in the Whidbey News Times?

    1. avatar

      More than likely never. Now if it was something bad about our new Mayor? You would have read it there first…

      1. avatar

        If Island Politics were instead called “Island News”, that would be rather misleading. However, if people could actually trust the Whidbey News-Times to report a story like this, instead of burying or obfuscating it because it does not fit their vision of “community” they likely would have gone to them instead of Island Politics.

  12. avatar

    I ask a serious question: why do you care if it ever runs in the Whidbey News Times? Isn’t it just another news outlet?? BillB your statement seems contradictory in my opinion. You feel it misleading to potentially call this blog ‘island ‘news’ yet you put news stories on it? Which one is it?

    1. avatar

      Unlike the Whidbey News-Times, we at Island Politics don’t pretend that our news articles often also contain editorializing and we don’t shy away from the reality that we often also have a political agenda in choosing what we publish and/or how we editorialize.

      Full disclosure: If other contributors at IP disagree with my assertion, for whatever reason, please do speak up at your leisure, as I do not pretend to have gotten a specific “okay” to speak for everyone on this matter, or on any other matter. I do, however, feel that my statement is generally accurate, but I welcome other views.

      1. avatar

        You have it right Bill.

Comments are now closed.