Newly disclosed records show that the Brier Police Department had decided to fire the officer two weeks before the shooting.
An officer with a tiny suburban police department was not, in fact, fired for responding to a mass shooting at a house party in nearby Mukilteo, newly disclosed records suggest.
The (Everett) Herald newspaper obtained the personnel file of Brier police officer Dan Anderson under a public records request. It shows the department had concerns about his performance, driving ability and legal knowledge — and that it decided to fire him two weeks before the July 30 shooting, which left three teens dead.
Anderson retired from the Washington State Patrol after 25 years last December, and started working as one of Brier’s six officers that month. After Anderson was fired Aug. 15, he told reporters it was because he left his post to respond to the shooting, about 10 miles away. He was the only officer on duty at the time.
Anderson’s account received national media attention, and Brier’s City Hall received hundreds of angry phone calls and emails about his treatment. The city issued a news release saying that Anderson’s account was not accurate or complete, but it declined to provide further information, prompting the Herald’s records request.
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His personnel file says officials decided to fire him July 18, but didn’t tell him right away because they wanted to hire a replacement first.
When Anderson, 51, applied for unemployment benefits, he listed the Mukilteo shootings as his reason for being fired, records show.
In response, City Clerk Paula Swisher wrote the state unemployment department that Brier had decided July 18 to terminate Anderson for “overall job performance” and “numerous errors.”
Anderson told the newspaper he was unaware of the department deciding earlier to fire him, and he stands by his comments about his firing.
“Have I made good, honest, normal mistakes? Yeah,” Anderson said. “Nothing you would fire anyone for, nothing that I’ve ever seen anyone get fired for.”
Records from January show Anderson had problems finding local schools and other addresses after 911 calls. One officer wrote that he advised Anderson to “slow down and paint a picture in his head of the route he should take to get to a location.”
Anderson had trouble hearing his calls on the radio and keeping his radio turned on, records show. His supervisors also wrote that he did not observe normal safety precautions when he pulled people over and that he was too often late for work.
On Jan. 21, roughly three weeks into the job, Anderson was told his lack of understanding of the city’s geography was “unacceptable and dangerous.”
On March 2, a training officer wrote that Anderson was improving, “but on multiple occasions, after coaching, he still fails to meet the performance standard.” That officer said Anderson was not a good fit for the city.
Anderson described himself as a hard worker who is passionate about fighting crime, especially drunken driving. He denied any confusion with Brier’s geography, saying that by the time he was fired, he knew the city like “a Swiss watch.”