Washougal mayor enters not guilty plea for impersonating a police officer

Pre-trial hearing for Sean Guard is set for Aug. 31

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Washougal Mayor Sean Guard has entered a plea of not guilty, on a charge of second degree criminal impersonation.

His attorney Luka Vitasovic filed a notice of appearance Tuesday, entering a plea on Guard’s behalf with the Cowlitz County District Court clerk.

A pre-trial hearing has been set for Aug. 31 at 3:30 p.m., at the Hall of Justice in Kelso. A jury trial has been set for Sept. 23 at 9 a.m.

Guard could face up to 365 days in jail. The maximum fine for a gross misdemeanor is $5,000.

He was stopped by a State Patrol trooper on Dec. 24, 2010, along I-5 near Kelso. The trooper responded to a dispatch issued after someone called 911 about a person who was using emergency lights in order to get slower traffic to move out of the left lane.

Guard said the car – a 1995 Ford Taurus previously driven by former Police Chief Bob Garwood – does not have emergency lights. He said he was alternating between the use of no front lights to high beams to get the attention of drivers who were traveling in front of him at speeds lower than the speed limit.

Guard was a Camas reserve police officer for approximately five years in the 1980s.

In January, the Washougal City Council amended a chapter in the city’s personnel policies to include language that prohibits the assignment of take home vehicles to elected officials. At the time of the traffic stop, Guard was traveling to the South Tacoma area on a day trip unrelated to city business.

Guard returned the former police car to the city’s surplus fleet on Jan. 3. It had been assigned to him in the early part of 2010.