Pierce County Sheriff candidate seeks greater transparency in community

Oct 5, 2020, 1:52 PM
Pierce County investigation into Sheriff...
(Pierce County Sheriff's Department, Facebook)
(Pierce County Sheriff's Department, Facebook)

Pierce County voters will soon choose a new sheriff in the wake of Paul Pastor’s recent retirement. One of the candidates to fill that seat is Pierce County Sheriff’s Detective Ed Troyer, and his challenger is Lieutenant Cynthia Fajardo, who has also been with that same sheriff’s office for many years. She joined the Gee and Ursula Show to discuss her candidacy.

“I’ve been a law enforcement officer for 36 years, 32 of those being with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. And when I started my career, it was always my hope that I could work myself through the ranks and to be a leader within the department. And especially here in the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, I’ve worked through the ranks of the department as a sergeant, as a lieutenant, as the chief of a contract city, and attended the FBI national academy,” she said.

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“In today’s age, especially with things that are going on in society, I think having all of that experience and exposure that I’ve had for the 36 years of my career makes me the ideal candidate to lead this department through these challenging times.”

Recently there were documents that were obtained by the News Tribune suggesting that a former commander of the sheriff’s drug unit created a plan to make false police report, in an effort to protect an informant who had received death threats from a Mexican cartel. The report states that Fajardo, along with four members of the special investigation unit were internally investigated for that plan. This led to the drug unit being disbanded for five months.

“Well, the investigation is still ongoing, and I have not had an opportunity to give my formal response to the investigation. But essentially, the plan was a ruse, which in law enforcement you’re allowed to do … A credible threat to somebody who was cooperating with law enforcement and had assisted us in getting multiple pounds of methamphetamine off the street. Which, of course, we don’t want for our children or family members to have that availability of those drugs for the public safety issue, and it was a decision that needed to be made immediately,” she said.

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“And we took the route that we did because we believed it would have the least impact on the department. It would get what needed to get done to protect this person who had really put themselves in a very precarious position by helping us.”

How can police departments do a better job with transparency, and what would she do about this if elected?

“Well, one of the ways that you deal with the transparency issue is it’s always a good idea to have someone not affiliated with the department to be a gatekeeper and have them included in these types of discussions. At one point in the sheriff’s department, we did have a citizen adviser, and they did have some access to events and things that occurred within the department,” she said.

“But as we move forward, this is what the community is demanding. We work for the community, so what’s in the best interest of the community is in the best interest of the department. There are many models throughout the United States that allow for community input, which attributes to the transparency and the accountability going forward. And that is definitely something that I am going to look into when I become the sheriff of Pierce County.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Pierce County Sheriff candidate seeks greater transparency in community