City terminates fire captain

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 4:58 p.m.

The City of Spokane has terminated a fire captain for violating Civil Service rules and City policies by threatening a subordinate employee.

An administrative investigation conducted by an independent investigator determined that Kevin Smathers sent a disparaging and threatening email to a subordinate employee. The action violated Civil Service rules and City policies. Smathers, a former member of the fire department's Special Investigations Unit, had been on administrative leave since May 1.

“The City holds its supervisors to a high standard of conduct,” Mayor David Condon said. “Threatening and unprofessional behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

The investigation found that Smathers sent the threatening email from his personal account to the personal email account of a subordinate officer on April 19. Smathers admitted that he avoided using his City email system because he knew sending a threatening message violated City policies, according to the investigative report. The recipient of the email, a fire lieutenant, perceived it as physical threat.

“The City takes very seriously its obligation to provide a safe, appropriate work environment for all employees,” Condon said.

The four-month investigation also found that Smathers violated City policy and Civil Service rules against keeping metal knuckles in a City vehicle and improperly storing three City firearms. The firearms were stored in an unapproved personal safe in Smathers' City vehicle and later in his home, the investigation found.