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Ferndale officer returned to regular duties, investigation deemed “unfounded”

Ferndale Police Department building exterior. Photo courtesy City of Ferndale
Ferndale Police Department building exterior. Photo courtesy City of Ferndale

FERNDALE, Wash. — A Ferndale Police officer placed on administrative leave October 1st after a story published online said he had emailed Oath Keepers has been returned to duties. The City of Ferndale told Whatcom News today, November 1st, via email that the officer had returned to regular duties Friday, October 29th.

The story cited data copied from the Oath Keepers group’s servers that indicated the officer had sent an email via a personal email account to the Washington State chapter asking for information.

Due to the nature of this group, the City placed the officer on administrative leave. After a thorough investigation, the Ferndale Police Department concluded this investigation as unfounded. Since no violation of policy or law occurred, the officer returned to regular duty Friday, Oct. 29th.

City of Ferndale (November 1, 2021)

Oath Keepers reportedly has more than 35,000 members nationwide. They have been described by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as “a large but loosely organized group of individuals, some of whom have ties to militias.” According to media reports following reviews of the hacked data, the membership includes elected state and local officials, law enforcement and military veterans.

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Some Oath Keepers members have been associated with a violent uprising at the US Capital on January 6th since the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested an Oath Keeper member who “planned his activities on Jan. 6 in advanced coordination with individuals and affiliates of the Oath Keepers.” He pled guilty to charges related to the incident.

The City’s announcement went on to say, “As a result of this incident, the City will be reviewing and updating their policies and training relating to subversive or controversial organizations.”

City Communications Officer Riley Sweeney, when asked by Whatcom News if current policies failed to address this investigation, clarified via email, “while there is some language in our code of conduct and personnel policies about personal conduct, there is not specific language relating to joining or participating in organizations and that is something we will rectify in the coming days.”

When asked what about the group merited placing the officer on leave, Sweeney responded, “The Oath Keepers were the subject of a series of national investigative news stories, in which an email allegedly from one of our officers, played a part.”

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