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"Police cheif may leave, department hit by audit"

"As a councilmember calls for a state audit of the Federal Way Public Safety Department, it appears that Police Chief Ron Wood will leave his post.It is unclear whether the two issues are related.City spokesman Derek Matheson confirmed that Wood and City Manager David Moseley are having discussions about the future of the police department, but declined to comment further.It's a personnel matter and we need to maintain confidentiality until it is complete, Matheson said. He also declined to comment on whether the discussions Wood and Moseley are having are related to the audit request by Councilman Mike Hellickson.Wood, who has been with the department since 1996, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The force he oversees has 150 employees and a budget of $13.5 million.The state auditor is looking at some issues in the Federal Way department at a citizen's request, said Mindy Chambers, communications program manager for the auditor's office. She declined to comment on the details, citing a need to protect the integrity of the audit.Chambers did say the auditor can look only at certain things, such as assets or payments, and cannot look into things like personnel or morale matters.She also said the auditor's investigation is in a preliminary phase, and that the office will investigate any time a citizen makes such a request.Hellickson said he made the request because he is concerned about what he calls a breakdown in communication between the police department and City Hall. Hellickson said the final straw was a tip that the department had acquired a donated Zodiac boat.Do they technically need council approval? No. Should they get city manager approval? Yes, Hellickson said of accepting donations.The larger concern, he said, is that by accepting the boat the department is creating a new program that will require money for maintenance and training - a policy issue that the City Council should decide.It would appear that they are trying to create it without council approval, Hellickson said.This lack of communication, such as not informing City Hall of the Zodiac, makes it hard for Moseley and Management Services Director Iwen Wang, who oversees the budget, to do their jobs. It also erodes public trust and accountability, he said, because it circumvents the city's system of checks and balances.The Zodiac is just the tip of the iceberg, he added.Hellickson said the audit request he filed asks for scrutiny of all police department assets and finances.I want to look at all of the funds that are going in and out of that department. Every dollar, he said.There are other concerns with the department, he said, including customer service complaints and what Hellickson calls heavy handed tactics by some officers.Police Deputy Director Brian Wilson said the department always is concerned about such complaints, if received. He said the only recent issue to surface is related to concerns of business owners who were stung for not displaying current business licenses, a misdemeanor under city code, during an emphasis patrol in late April. He added the City Council is considering a proposal to make police enforcement of delinquent business licenses a last resort.Wilson also said the department would welcome any audit. The department is audited on a regular, routine basis, both internally and by the state, he said.The state's last audit of the city, issued Aug. 6, turned up no problems in the public safety or other city departments, according to information from the state Auditor's Office."

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