The Lewis County deputy who was arrested in September for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol will receive a two-week, unpaid suspension but will keep his job in law enforcement, Sheriff Steve Mansfield announced Monday.
A Washington State Patrol trooper arrested Jeff S. Humphrey at about 4 a.m. Sept. 8 after he drove through a road closure on Labree Road and Interstate 5 in Chehalis, according to court documents. Humphrey was off-duty at the time of the alleged drunk driving incident.
The road had been closed due to a car accident in which a 24-year-old Chehalis man, who was allegedly also driving drunk, drove 123 mph down Interstate 5 in an attempt to flee police. The police pursuit ended when the 24-year-old got on a I-5 off ramp and crashed into a guardrail.
At the time of his arrest, Humphrey declined to do a field sobriety test but was transported to the Lewis County Jail, where he was not booked, but submitted two blood alcohol content samples of .159 and .143 — nearly twice the legal limit.
In a commentary submitted to The Chronicle Monday, Mansfield wrote that the deputy “will receive no preferential treatment under the law nor any leniency in meeting legal requirements than what would be afforded to any other citizen arrested for DUI.”
“My employee made an extremely poor, unacceptable decision when he chose to drink, get behind the wheel of his vehicle, and drive down the roadway,” Mansfield wrote. “It is a decision over which he is extremely embarrassed and sincerely regrets. He is now being held accountable for that mistake.”
Mansfield’s entire commentary is featured on page six in today’s edition of The Chronicle.
Humphrey has worked for the sheriff’s office for 12 years. On Aug. 13, Humphrey and another deputy received honorary awards from the Lewis County Commission for their instrumental roles in a sting dubbed “Operation Big Bottom Bust” in which 11 people were jailed for allegedly trafficking methamphetamine in East Lewis County.
“In looking at the totality of this situation and the employee’s exemplary performance over the past 12 years, the administrative sanctions imposed included a two-week unpaid suspension from duty, removal from his current position as (a narcotics) detective and a last-chance agreement that ties his continued employment directly to the conditions imposed by the court,” Mansfield wrote.
“Years ago, when I first became a deputy, an incident like this would end a career with few questions asked,” Mansfield wrote. “Today’s labor laws and union contracts afford greater protection to employees by ensuring due process is followed and discipline is only imposed in accordance with the principles of just cause.”
Humphrey’s defense attorney Don Blair told The Chronicle Monday evening that the criminal case is still pending, but added that his client is seeking a deferred sentence. His next court date is in December.
“Jeff is a very good deputy,” Blair said. “He’s very well liked. He does a good job for the sheriff’s office.”
Blair, speaking generally about DUI cases, said that Lewis County District Court will not enter a deferred sentence unless the individual has been in alcohol treatment for at least 60 days.