Police Chief Ordered in to Court
YPD officers and county prosecutors pack a courtroom this morning to discuss an issue that's been bothering Chief Dominic Rizzi for some time.
Chief Rizzi was ordered to appear before Judge David Elofson after sending a letter to the court regarding furloughs.
In that letter, Rizzi addresses a recent furlough granted to inmate Shaun Vanarendonk -- a convicted drug offender who police had to track down after he failed to return followng his furlough --and he's not the only one.
Rizzi says Vanarendonk and others have prior felony convictions, and he is concerned about the safety of the public.
"By furlough-ing someone who poses a great threat to the community, I just felt that it was inappropriate at the time," said Chief Rizzi, "So I wrote the letter asking, in the future, that the judges please take care when they make their decisions for furloughs."
However, court administrators say that letter was interpreted differently.
Judge Elofson believes the letter was crafted to influence his decision on Vanarendonk's sentencing, and ordered the chief to come into court to inform him the letter would not affect his sentencing decision.
"I don't think any citizen in Yakima County would want the chief of police to have access to the court without your attorney, or you knowing about it," said court consultant, Harold Delia, "If there's a problem with somebody, then we should sit down and talk about it. We shouldn't write letters to the judge."
Harold Delia says the judge ordered this hearing so that it can be put on the record, if the case were to go to the Court of Appeals.
Vanarendonk's sentencing, which was supposed to take place today, was delayed.
He is facing almost 2 years in prison for eluding and drug charges.