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Still no answers in police lieutenant's absence

A Petaluma Police lieutenant remained on administrative leave for a sixth consecutive week as of Wednesday, awaiting the results of an internal investigation into an undisclosed complaint.

Lt. Dave Sears, who was placed on paid leave on June 13, has been with the department for 14 years. Both he and Police Chief Patrick Williams declined to talk about the investigation or why it was launched.

City Manager John Brown also refused to discuss details of the internal investigation — including who is conducting it. He confirmed that Sears remains on leave, but refused to say whether the investigation had been completed.

Sears was hired as a lieutenant in Petaluma in 1999, after spending 12 years working for the City of Benicia. He was promoted to captain in 2004.

In 2009, Sears and Lt. Dan Fish — both captains at the time — became candidates for the police chief position left by retiring Chief Steve Hood. Fish was appointed the interim Police Chief and two years later proposed cutting the two captain positions to save money. Despite public outcry over the suggestion, the City Council agreed to do so.

Sears was demoted to the rank and salary of lieutenant, while Fish remained the interim chief. Upon being demoted, Sears initiated legal action against the city, which he later dropped. After the city hired current Police Chief Patrick Williams last year, Fish was also demoted to lieutenant.

City officials remain tight-lipped over the investigation, refusing to say whether the complaint originated from a member of the public or a fellow officer. Brown said last month that if the investigation found any wrongdoing by Sears, disciplinary action could follow.

Sears is an active member of the Petaluma community, serving on the Petaluma Youth Network, the Sonoma County Housing Land Trust and the Board of Directors for the Healthy Community Consortium. He is currently attending law school at the Empire College in Santa Rosa and has been a member of the Petaluma Kiwanis Club.

(Contact Janelle Wetzstein at janelle.wetzstein@arguscourier.com)


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