Yakima police officers Chad Urwin and Ryan Urlacher had quite the time when they visited Spokane for a firearms-training program this past June. When they weren't in training, the officers took their city-issued credit cards and sampled a handful of the city's culinary establishments, washing it down with about $400 worth of beer.
Now, about that $400 worth of beer. . .As Yakima taxpayers would likely be happy to hear, the city budget does not cover off-duty officers' drinking habits, and Urwin and Urlacher have now found themselves suspended for charging their suds to the city dime.
City of Yakima spokesman Randy Beehler explains:
"The officers told [the city manager] that they were confused about the credit-card policy," Beehler says. "The city has a $61 per day, per-diem policy. Part of this is they were under the impression that they could use that money on anything. They can't. We only pay the costs they actually incur--to the exclusion of alcohol."
Apparently one of the officers used to be a Washington State Patrol Trooper, and he explained that in the WSP, the officers' per diem is more of a no-questions-asked per diem.
When the city pointed out that the written per-diem policy specifically does not cover booze, the officers admitted that they screwed up.
Now, besides being suspended for a week with no pay and having to pay back the cost of the beer, the two officers have also been barred from being firearms-training instructors (which they were), and have been told that if they violate any other policy from now on they'll be fired immediately.
"It's a serious thing," Beehler says. "You're talking about public funds. You need to comply with our policy."