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Lt. Dave Sears fired after mysterious internal investigation

Dave Sears.

Published: Friday, August 23, 2013 at 2:27 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 23, 2013 at 2:27 p.m.

A longtime Petaluma police lieutenant has been fired after a two-month internal affairs investigation.

Lt. Dave Sears, who has been with the department for 14 years, was placed on paid administrative leave June 12. Details of the investigation have not been revealed.

Neither City Manager John Brown nor Police Chief Pat Williams could be reached Friday. City administrative offices are closed Fridays.

But other high-ranking sources within Petaluma City Hall confirmed Sears was fired by Brown at the end of the day Thursday, after which an email alerted City Council members.

Sears on Friday confirmed he had been dismissed. Reached at home, he would not discuss any allegations that led to his firing but vowed to appeal the decision.

“At this point all I can tell you is that we are disappointed it has come to this,” Sears said.

It is unclear which department members led the internal investigation or whose decision it was ultimately to fire him.

Several City Council members contacted Friday declined to discuss the situation.

“The reasons for the action have not been shared with us, so we're in the dark as much as everyone else,” said Councilman Mike Healy.

Mayor David Glass said it is a personnel matter that has “secrecies to it.”

“I have no more knowledge of anything that transpired that led to this than anyone else,” Glass said.

Police officers and other public employees share privacy rights that prohibit certain information about their employment from being released publicly.

When Sears was placed on leave in June, Brown said an internal investigation had begun. He would not disclose who may have lodged a complaint or what kind of wrongdoing it alleged.

Sears, 47, had been with the department since 1999 after working for the Benicia Police Department for 12 years. He worked in patrol, investigations, SWAT and the field-training program.

Recently, Sears had been handling administrative duties for the 90-member department, supervising the dispatch and records departments, claims and risk management, and budgeting.

Healy and others who asked not to be quoted by name said Sears is a well-liked, respected member of the department, internally and within the community. He has been active in the Petaluma Youth Network, the Sonoma County Housing Land Trust, and the board of directors for Healthy Community Consortium.

He is also attending law school at Empire College in Santa Rosa and is a member of the Petaluma Kiwanis Club.

Sears may seek to challenge the termination through the civil service hearing process. His attorney could not be reached for comment Friday.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.

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