Council Meeting Reveals More About Mehrens

MEDICAL LAKE, Wash. — A Medical Lake Police Officer, suspected of sexual misconduct, tried to hide his checkered past after his latest accuser filed a public information request.

Meanwhile, a different woman from Medical Lake who wanted to complain about Sergeant Joe Mehrens’ behavior was silenced at a city council meeting.

The City of Medical Lake has a practice of not allowing its citizens to publicly criticize civil servants they are unhappy with. However legal experts say the “not naming names” rule violates free speech.

Last week Cathy Litts wanted to conceal her identity when detailing how Sergeant Joe Mehrens allegedly sexually harassed her at Deaconess Medical Center.

“It was usually it was a comment about how I looked in my uniform pants or a lot of times it had to do with handcuffs,” said Litts.

However Tuesday night, Litts decided it was time to go public with her complaint at the Medical Lake City Council meeting. Once the city attorney figured out what Litts wanted to say, Cynthia McMullen told the Medical Lake resident she couldn’t name names.

“While comments may be made about specific departments or circumstances, it’s improper for anyone to come forward any make specific complaints about city employees,” said McMullen.

Litts took the podium anyway, stopping short of using Mehren’s name but still couldn’t get any answers.

“The city is not making any further statements with regard to that matter at this time,” said McMullen.

Litts responded, “Even to say how long he’s going to be on a paid vacation?”

“That’s not been determined at this time,” replied McMullen.

Medical Lake officials are being tight lipped about the Mehrens matter because the criminal case against him is still pending.

However behind the scenes, City Hall is trying to hold the sergeant responsible for his actions. In a letter dated June 4th of 2008, the city warned Mehrens that he was one strike away from immediate termination.

When Mehrens requested disciplinary reports in his personnel file be destroyed, the Mayor refused and handed them over to a city employee who accused Mehrens of fondling her breasts earlier this year.

Joe Mehrens’ attorney says his client’s labor contract allows him to request that older disciplinary actions be deleted from his files, they date back to 2000. But that was the point that Cathy Litts wanted to make, how could an officer with such a long history of problems still have a job?