Former Washington state police chief to get $125K settlement

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — A former Washington state police chief who was fired last year is expected to collect a $125,000 settlement following employment claims he filed with state and federal agencies.

Michael Campos was fired in May as Wapato police chief with cause after an internal investigation found evidence to support allegations he tried to intimidate witnesses into changing statements, lied under oath and participated in an investigation in which he had a conflict of interest.

Campos referred his case to the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, according to documents recently obtained by the Yakima Herald-Republic through public records request. He also filed a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Campos, who joined the Wapato force in 2005, was appointed police chief by then-Mayor Dora Alvarez-Roa in August 2018. She had terminated former Police Chief Dominic Rizzi without cause and picked Campos, whose civil service rank is police officer, over the department’s only acting sergeant at the time.

Campos was named in several officer reports alleging he worked with former City Administrator Juan Orozco to use the Police Department to harass residents.

Campos denied the allegations in a May 28 letter, saying he was appalled by the city’s treatment of him and contesting claims he used his position for personal gain.

“I did not utilize my position to secure any special privileges, receive any gift or compensation, reward or gratuity,” Campos wrote.

The union for Wapato police officers, Teamsters Local 760, filed a grievance on his behalf challenging the termination.

The union and Campos agreed to drop the claims when Wapato officials approved the $125,000 settlement in December.

Under the settlement’s provisions, city personnel records will indicate Campos voluntarily resigned.

Police Chief Nolan Wentz said the city does not plan to refer charges against Campos to prosecutors and cited the settlement agreement that limits his comments on the case.

Campos and the union did not respond to requests for additional comment.