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North Plains cop won't be charged in Washington state

Officer had been under scrutiny for harassment, criminal mischief


Photo Credit: COURTESY PHOTO - North Plains Police Officer Jody Petersen will not be charged after an investigation by the Woodland, Wash., police department into allegations connected to her personal life.A prosecutor in Cowlitz County, Wash., has declined to charge North Plains Police Officer Jody Petersen, 37, with any crime after a two-month investigation into allegations of harassment and malicious mischief.

The investigation by the Woodland Police Department was connected to Petersen’s personal life.

Petersen, who has previously lived in the Woodland area, doubles as a part-time, temporary deputy with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. She was placed on administrative leave from the North Plains Police Department Oct. 6, about the time the inquiry began. She has not worked for the sheriff’s office since Sept. 22, 2014.

She returned to duty with the city of North Plains on Dec. 17, according to City Manager Martha DeBry.

“Woodland City Prosecutor Fred Johnson determined there was no evidence of a crime,” DeBry wrote in a Jan. 21 email.

Woodland Police Chief Phil Crochet said this week that Johnson has decided not to prosecute Petersen on accusations of third-degree malicious mischief and telephone harassment.

The Hillsboro Tribune obtained a 73-page report from the Woodland Police Department detailing the investigation, which includes stories of marital conflict, infidelity and child abandonment.

Narrative from the report, dated Nov. 11, 2014, included this synopsis:

“This is an investigation of domestic violence issues between husband and wife Jody Petersen and Steven Petersen. There were multiple allegations toward each party. The allegations included Jody Petersen committing the crimes of telephone harassment, malicious mischief, burglary, theft, harassment and false reporting. Steven Petersen was alleged to have committed the crimes of child neglect, assault, theft and order violations.

“During the course of this investigation, I was able to show several of the allegations did not happen at all or they did not occur at a criminal level. There were other allegations on both sides that I was not able to prove or disprove.”

That report was signed by Woodland Police Officer Brent Murray.

Also included in the report is information from Woodland Police Sgt. Brad Gillaspie, who has known the Petersens for about three years. He said he told North Plains Police Chief Bill Snyder in October 2014 that he intended to investigate Jody Petersen for malicious mischief as part of a “law enforcement domestic violence mandatory reporting requirement.”

In one incident, Gillaspie said, Jody Petersen allegedly took her husband’s work uniform into their back yard on Misty Drive in Woodland, stomped on it in the dirt and poured bleach on it to “intentionally ruin it,” prompting the malicious-mischief complaint.

Her calls to her husband, Steven Petersen, a pilot, prompted allegations of telephonic harassment — by definition those made “with intent to harass, intimidate, torment or embarrass” another person.

Gillaspie also wrote that last summer, Jody Petersen obtained a restraining order that prevented her husband from having contact with their two children.

Petersen will remain on patrol in North Plains while the police department conducts an internal investigation, a process that should take about a week, Snyder said Wednesday afternoon.

“I think that’s appropriate,” Snyder said. “I think the public expects that. We want to get it wrapped up and get it behind us.”

Sgt. Bob Ray, spokesman for the WCSO, said his agency also would look into whether Petersen violated any of its policies.

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