New Sequim police chief has controversial past

Peninsula News Network


Sequim finally has its new police chief, a man with a varied law enforcement background who’s been in the headlines more than a few times because of political turmoil and even accusations of gun play.

Sequim City Manager Bill Elliott announced this week that he had hired Robert Spinks to be the city’s “top cop”, filling the vacancy left open with the resignation of former Chief Ken Burge last fall. Elliott selected Spinks from a group of four finalists for the job, and praises his experience and his approach.

Elliott should know. He worked with Spinks when he was city manager in Milton-Freewater, Oregon and Spinks was police chief. But the pair’s tenure there ended in tremendous controversy and upheaval, according to most press accounts after a political struggle erupted for control of the city council.

The Eastern Oregonian had reported at the time that Spinks was placed on “non-disciplinary administrative leave” when he resigned the chief’s job in Milton-Freewater at the end of a bitter dispute with some members of the city council. The paper reported that he had been accused of pressing his officers to campaign for specific candidates for city council. Then, he resigned in 2001, blasting the council for terminating Elliot as a result of all the fighting in the previous months.

Spinks left to take a job as Undersheriff in Benton County. But according to articles in the Corvallis Gazette-Times, he resigned that post in September 2001 after allegations that he had misused his weapon. The Gazette-Times said he had been accused of pulling his gun and pointing it at a dartboard in a fire station, although the incident was never proven and he denied it took place. At the time he resigned, Spinks said he was quitting because he was having to work “exceeding long hours” in the sheriff’s department there, and said the combination of work, school and family “didn’t work out” for him.

PNN had reported on those incidents back in 2002, when Spinks had applied for the Sequim police chief’s job the first time. Elliott ultimately decided to use consultants to find the new chief and that led to Burge’s hiring later that year.

Spinks has a lot of different law enforcement positions on his resume… working for various departments in Oregon, Washington and California over the past 20 years. He was most recently working as a trial court supervisor in Oregon. Spinks is expected to take his new job here in Sequim in mid-February.



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