Pasco police chief recommends firing officer

Tyler Richardson, Tri-City HeraldMay 14, 2014 

Pasco Police Promotion

Zach Fairley of the Pasco Police Department

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Pasco Police Chief Bob Metzger has recommended that the city fire an officer charged with lying to investigators and trying to solicit a suspected prostitute.

Zachary J. Fairley, 32, has been on paid administrative leave since early January. He was charged in February with making false or misleading statements to a public servant -- a gross misdemeanor -- and earlier this month with patronizing a prostitute, a misdemeanor.

A decision on Fairley's employment could come by the end of the week, Metzger said.

An internal investigation was completed last week, he said, and the matter is in City Manager Gary Crutchfield's hands.

"Based on the internal investigation, based on hearings and meetings I've had with (Fairley), what occurred is that it was recommended he be terminated," Metzger said.

While on the leave from the police department, Fairley was hired by the Red Cross.

The Red Cross didn't release any other information about when he was hired or his job title.

"The American Red Cross Pacific Northwest Blood Services Region is conducting an internal investigation. regarding a staff member's employment," spokeswoman Daphne Mathew said in a statement. "The employee has been put on paid administrative leave until the investigation is complete."

The criminal case against Fairley stems from text messages between Fairley's cellphone and a phone used to make bomb threats against Columbia Basin College, according to police records.

There were at least 17 messages between Fairley's phone and suspect Steven E. Brown's phone hours before the threats were made.

A review of the messages showed Fairley was trying to set up a meeting with a suspected prostitute at a local motel, police said. Police believe Brown's adult daughter used her father's phone to post an online ad for a female escort service.

Fairley refused to be interviewed by police investigators about the text messages.

Fairley has been with the department for more than six years and was promoted to sergeant in early 2013. He was demoted shortly after for sending nude pictures to county dispatchers and making inappropriate comments in group text messages with other officers, police officials said.

Fairley and the officers in the group text were on the Tri-Cities Regional SWAT Team. The texts were sent from the officers' personal cellphones while on and off duty.

Some of the comments in the texts were derogatory, racist and homophobic in nature, police records show. Many of the texts contained vulgar language.

After police officials saw the text messages, two officers were suspended for a day and another resigned. The department chose to reorganize its portion of the SWAT team and all the officers who were disciplined were reassigned.

Fairley filed a complaint with the human resources office before he was placed on leave, records show. The complaint accuses co-workers of sexual harassment, harassment and racial discrimination.

Many co-workers named in the complaint denied Fairley's claims of harassment and discrimination.

-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; trichardson@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @Ty_richardson

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