Richland PD Chief responds to resident’s concerns over newest officer hire

Officer Martin was fired from the Seattle PD in 2018 for failing to follow department policies and putting bystanders in harm's way

RICHLAND, Wash. — Multiple voices are speaking out online in protest of the Richland Police Department’s newest hire, an officer fired from the Seattle Police Department in 2018.

According to this Seattle Times article, multiple investigations found Officer Kenneth Martin and others had “recklessly fired at the stolen car after failing to follow department policies” in 2017.

“Although the driver and passenger weren’t seriously injured, the disciplinary reports and internal-investigation findings depict a chaotic scene in which the outcome could have led to unwarranted deaths or serious injuries and possible harm to bystanders who could have been struck by errant gunfire,” the article said.

Watch the body camera footage below:

Now he’s the newest officer for the Richland PD, according to a now-deleted Facebook post from August 3, 2021.

KAPP/KVEW secured a screenshot of the deleted post:

Screen Shot 2021 08 05 At 102520 Am 720

Officer Martin most recently worked for the Mabton Police Department in Yakima County where he is still listed as of this publication. His bio reads, “Officer Martin believes in proactive policing and the community has already expressed their appreciation for his professionalism.”

Keneth

This comes as Washington state recently sent new police reform laws into action for police accountability and public safety.

Included in the new laws is a mandatory extensive background check.

Representative Roger Goodman (D-WA) said “the legislature’s intent is clear. To reduce violent confrontations between police and members of the community, to make sure that police are treating all communities equitably, and to establish a statewide standard of best practices in terms of use of force and use of less than lethal means, particularly de-escalation.”

“The vast majority of police are well-meaning and are doing a great job for us in our communities but we want to make sure that there are those officers who really shouldn’t be in this profession who are engaging in misconduct, that they are sanctioned by the state one way or another,” Rep. Goodman said.

When asked if he had a response to RPD’s newest hire, Rep. Goodman said “local police agencies have the discretion to hire whoever they think is appropriate.”

“On the state level, we’re concerned about officers who engage in egregious acts of misconduct or patterns of repeated misconduct moving from one department to another,” Rep. Goodman said.

John Bruce, RPD’s Chief of Police, said the department is aware of Officer Martin’s background.

“Anytime somebody gets terminated from employment it’s a concern but that’s the purpose of a thorough background is to vet the circumstances and dig into it a little deeper,” Chief Bruce said. “He’s a highly qualified lateral officer and a U.S. veteran. He comes to us with high recommendations from his last law enforcement agency.”

Chief Bruce explained that background checks can take weeks to months.

“There’s initial testing and it’s stringent with candidates going in an initial review of their application, resume, personal history statement from City of Richland resources, and then a second review by an internal subject matter expert,” Chief Bruce said. “That would be police officers assigned to do the background investigation.”

Chief Bruce said that if applicants move on from that stage, they are then “subject to a complete background investigation.”

“It includes an integrity interview, references, home check, previous employers, criminal history, driving history, financials, and quite a bit more,” Chief Bruce said. “Suitability, assessment rating, polygraph, and psychological examination and medical test.”

Once officers are hired, they are put into an orientation phase, field training, and a 12 month-long probation period.

“He’s nowhere near finished going through all the trials and tribulations associated with starting at a different police department,” Chief Bruce said.

Chief Bruce added that residents should “trust the process.”

“We take into consideration and vet every aspect of the background not just from his word but we actually go to the agencies, we review documents, and files that other agencies allow us to see and we talk to a lot of people,” Chief Bruce said.

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