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Deputy fired over 911 calls

Island County Sheriff Mike Hawley has fired Deputy Jay Wallace for failing to respond to 911 hang up calls from a Freeland residence.

“Deputy Jay Wallace was terminated for good cause in accordance with Civil Service rules,” Hawley said. “Wallace was notified of the decision late yesterday afternoon.”

Wallace, a Republican candidate for Island County Sheriff, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Wallace was “discharged for cause” following an internal investigation conducted by a special investigator selected by Hawley. The internal investigation concluded last week.

Wallace, a Greenbank resident, has been on administrative leave since the Feb. 7 911 incident. He was officially relieved of his duties Monday.

Attempts to contact Wallace’s attorney were also unsuccessful.

The internal disciplinary investigation found that Wallace neglected his duties and failed to follow procedure in an incident that occurred on Shoreview Drive in Freeland. A Bellingham man allegedly assaulted a woman and held her against her will in a small home near Freeland Park. The woman called 911 twice without success, and escaped from the home the following day.

It’s not known if Wallace will fight his dismissal. He can appeal the decision to the Island County Civil Service Commission.

The sheriff department’s internal investigation also turned up evidence of a crime relating to false reporting, Hawley said.

The attorney general’s office is continuing to investigate a possible criminal case against Wallace.

“Our investigation is completely independent of the internal investigation,” said Janelle Guthrie, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office.

On the night of Feb. 7, and several hours later on Feb. 8, two 911 hang-up calls were received by the Island County dispatch center.

According to court documents and 911 reports, Wallace responded to the first 911 call the victim made from the home, but he left without contacting the woman. He didn’t respond at all to the second 911 call after being notified by the dispatch center, according to court documents.

Hawley said Wallace’s responses to both calls were against the department’s policy on 911 calls.

Wallace has been the subject of two separate probes; an in-house administrative investigation by the sheriff’s office and a parallel criminal investigation by the Oak Harbor Police Department.

The criminal investigation, conducted by the Oak Harbor Police Department, was forwarded to the county prosecutor on March 2, who then sent it to the state attorney general’s office.

The Island County prosecutor forwarded the results of the Oak Harbor investigation to the state attorney general’s office because of the sensitive nature of the case and to avoid any issues of a possible conflict of interest.

Wallace’s dismissal stems from an incident where Matthew M. Friar, 27, of Bellingham allegedly assaulted a woman and held her against her will in a small home near Freeland Park.

The victim apparently made two 911 calls, but later escaped mid-morning on Feb. 8. She then borrowed a cell phone from a citizen at Freeland Park to call police again.

Friar was initially charged by the Island County prosecutor on three separate counts; unlawful imprisonment, harassment with threats to kill his victim and assault in the fourth degree-domestic violence. unlawful imprisonment. The case in Island County was dismissed, and Friar was transferred to Whatcom County where he was wanted on warrants.

It is unknown whether the results of the internal investigation and the pending criminal investigation will change Wallace’s decision to run for sheriff. His campaign Web page is still active.

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