Former Undersheriff sues Pacific County and Sheriff’s Office

A former Pacific County Undersheriff has filed a lawsuit against Pacific County and the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office for a violation of the Public Records Act.

Todd Fosse has filed a lawsuit in Grays Harbor County Superior Court against both offices stating that public records related to his employment that he requested in 2015 have not been released.

Fosse was hired in January 2011 as Pacific County Undersheriff. In March 2015, he was fired and according to the lawsuit it was “without explanation”.

In April 2015, Fosse submitted a Public Records Request to the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office for “records potentially relating to” his termination.

There were 3 other requests made by Fosse.

First request:

  1. Personnel Records for Todd S. Fosse, including a list of all contacts from Mr. Fosse’s Department issued telephone;
  2. Job description for Undersheriff;
  3. Training records for Todd S. Fosse from January 1, 2011, to present;
  4. Weekly time reports for Todd S. Fosse from January 1, 2011, to present;
  5. Email records and text messages from November 1, 2014, to present, sent and received by and between the following individuals: (a) Scott Johnson, Elected PCSO; (b) Lisa Ayers, County Commissioner; (c) Steve Rogers, County Commissioner; (d) Frank Wolfe, County Commissioner; (e) Mark McClain, Elected Prosecutor (records from January 1, 2015 to present); (f) Chief Deputy Pat Matlock, Chief Deputy; (g) Lt. Jim Bergstrom, PCSO; (h)Denise Rowlett, Chief Civil Deputy Command Staff; (i) Detective Ryan Tully, PCSO; and (j) Kathy Spoor, County Administraror;
  6. Current and any previous versions of the Lexipol Police Manual for Pacific County Sheriff’s Office pertaining to “comp time,” “compensatory time,” “over time,” “salaried employees,” and “at will employees” from November 1, 2011 to present;
  7. Any policy manuals supplemental to or previous to Lexipol relating to the terms “comp time,” “compensatory time,” “over time,” “salaried employees,” and “at will employees” from January 1, 2010 to present;
  8. All text messages and voice mail messages to and from Mr. Fosse’s Department issued cell phone REDACTED BY KXRO from November 1, 2014 to present;
  9. All records, policies, procedures, rules, guidelines related to “comp time,” “compensatory time,” and “over time” for Pacific County Sheriff’s Office and Pacific County;
  10. Any and all writings, documents, emails, text messages, voicemails, notes, logs, etc. relating “Todd S. Fosse” or “undersheriff” from January 1, 2015 to present.

A second request was sent in July 2015:

  1. All emails rto and from Robin Souvenir to PCSO regarding firearms training and firearm qualification of Denise Rowlett;
  2. All emails between Robin Souvenir and Todd Fosse relating to Denise Rowlett;
  3. Any and all emails in 2014-present relating to Denise Rowlett’s unsuccessful attempts at firearm qualifications, including the email discussing Robin Souvenir’s concerns following Ms. Rowlett’s January 2014 appearance at the firearm range;
  4. All information relating to Denise Rowlett and firearm training and firearm qualifications or failure at firearm qualification.

A third request was sent August 2015:

  1. Any and all documents relating to Denise Rowlett and any of the following : LEOFF2, Fully Commissioned Officer, Civil Service Exam, Non-commissioned, or firearm qualification;
  2. All records including Commissioner’s instructions pertaining to the PCSO K-9, including documentation of expenses relating to the K-9’s training, kennel construction located at former Deputy’s residence, costs associated with K-9 Deputy Kangas leaving to accept employment with Lewis County, documents relating to costs or purchases associated with reassignment of K-9 to Deputy that assumed K-9 duties after Dep. Kangas’ resignation, including cost reports of new kennel or enclosure and training costs;

A fourth request was sent in September 2015:

  1. Please provide any and all documents (including eltters and emails) relating to taxes owed, balances due, interest due or outstanding tax obligations obligations :Scott Johnson and Johnson & Sons Excavating, including property tax, personal property tax or business tax; covering the period of 1/01/20911 to 9/14/215

In April 2015, the Pacific County Public Records Center released the first portion of the request, but said that “Due to the large number and complexity of requests we have received, the extent of this request, and its need for a search of the county email system, we anticipate it may take up to 120 business days to fulfill the remainder of your request.”

They said, “Please be aware that the response time being provided to you is an approximation only.”

According to court documents obtained by KXRO, multiple portions of the request have been fulfilled, including thousands of documents, but as of this month, the case says that Fosse still has not received those requests in full.

Speaking with the Public Records Center, they tell KXRO that as they review the documents, they must confirm they relate to the request, are not duplicates, and must redact any information that is related to ongoing cases.

State law says that if someone is “denied the right to inspect or copy” a public record, the court could impose a maximum fee of $100 per document for each day it was withheld.

Because of the multiple requests, it is not possible to calculate this amount at this time.

Fosse’s attorney, Benjamin Compton of Vreeland Law, told KXRO that I do want to be clear that Mr. Fosse did not initiate this lawsuit to secure a payday for himself.  This lawsuit is to enable Mr. Fosse to get the records he requested so long ago and to hold the County responsible for its long delays. “

Pacific County Sheriff Scott Johnson responded to KXRO and said that because of the ongoing litigation, his office could not comment on the case.



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