Questions about Joe Harris' past from a concerned citizen

A few days ago, a concerned Grant County resident asked the follow questions:

These are great questions and I would like to respond.

1. Why were you let go as the Chief of Police of Mattawa?

I was found to have been wrongfully terminated from the City of Mattawa. My employment was reinstated, but I chose to resign due to differences of opinion. Further information on this subject can be found in articles of the Columbia Basin Herald, which comprehensively covered the incident at the time.

Questions number two and three are tied to one incident and can be answered together.

2. What was the result of the Sheriff’s Office internal investigation of you when you were a Grant County Sheriff’s deputy?

3. Why did your ex-wife put a restraining order on you?

I experienced a divorce many years ago. While I was working for the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, my ex-wife petitioned to have a restraining order put against me, accused me of raping my infant/toddler-aged son and herself and accused me of burglarizing her house. Because of the allegations, both the Moses Lake Police Department and the Grant County Sheriff’s Office performed investigations. I was cleared by both agencies of the false allegations.

Because of this experience, where I was falsely accused and put on administrative leave for something I didn’t do, I am sensitive to ensure that due process happens. I also understand how false allegations can damage the reputation of a law enforcement officers. As Sheriff, I will do everything in my power to expose false allegations and seek criminal charges against those who make such allegations.

Read a copy of the final report here.

4. Weren’t the results of the two investigations of the incident with Ken Jones at the Grant County Sheriff’s Department that there was no intent to commit time card fraud?

According to the investigation report written by Tim Rasmussen, prosecuting attorney for the Stevens County Prosecutor’s Office, in collaboration with Captain Reinfeld of the Wenatchee Police Department, Ken Jones was found to have “failed to adequately account for his time in violation of the policies of the Grant County Sheriff’s office in three separate instances.” Rasmussen stated that while Jones could be charged with “State crimes such as Misconduct, Fraud, Theft, and even Federal crimes such as the Failure to Provide Honest Services,” he believed that a major hindrance to any attempt to prosecution would be that the behavior was approved by the Sheriff of Grant County, who happens to be Jones’ brother. 

“The involvement of the Sheriff himself in these practices explains why there were no policies preventing these practices,” Rasmussen wrote in the report. “It is obvious that the policies and the practices of the command officers involved had a deleterious effect on the quality of the law enforcement serving the county. The resignation of other command deputies is evidence of this effect. In short, the policies of the administration of the Grant County Sheriff’s Office allowed this problem to exist and stand as the main impediment to successful prosecution. My conclusion is that there is a serious breakdown of accountability within the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.”

Rasmussen believed that prosecuting Jones would fail because the Sheriff of Grant County condoned the false timecard accounting. Therefore, he declined to prosecute. He stated that it was the responsibility of Grant County citizens to address the issues happening in the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.

Read the entire report written by Rasmussen here.

Thank you to this Grant County resident for your questions. I value your input.

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