Clark County’s two largest law enforcement agencies report that to the best of their knowledge, no officers or deputies were in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 as rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
“No, nothing has been brought to our attention,” Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain said.
No one from the sheriff’s office attended the rally either, Clark County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Brent Waddell said.
Nearly 30 sworn police officers from a dozen departments nationwide attended the pro-Trump rally, and several stormed the building with rioters and are facing federal criminal charges as well as possible expulsion or other discipline. At least two Seattle police officers have been placed on administrative leave due to their alleged involvement in the violent riots.
The Vancouver Police Department has not proactively looked into whether any staff traveled to the Capitol. McElvain said the department generally does not track the travel plans of its employees or what they do in their private lives, so long as their conduct does not reflect negatively on the Vancouver Police Department and is consistent with its policies.
“If we receive information that any department employee potentially acted unlawfully or violated policy, we investigate,” the police chief said.
Waddell said the sheriff’s office similarly did not and does not proactively look into staff travel plans.
Regarding the insurrection, McElvain said his department respects the rights of people to protest and exercise their constitutional rights, but its officers stand against violence, destructive behavior and disregard for the law.
The Columbian reached out to the police chief, as well as the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, after receiving emails from Clark County residents looking for reassurances from local law enforcement agencies about violent extremists in their ranks.
McElvain said the police department takes its hiring process seriously. In part, the intent of its employee background checks is to uncover any aspects of a person’s behaviors or their associations that would make them unsuitable for the job; the department also has policies that prohibit “bias-based behavior, for which an employee could be disciplined, up to and including termination, depending on the circumstances,” he said.
The aftermath of the riots continues to unfold. At statehouses across the country on Sunday, several armed groups arrived at state capitols. In Olympia, National Guard soldiers and State Patrol troopers have amassed to protect the state Capitol. The Associated Press described the scene as a quiet start to inauguration week protests that may be a lull before more angry days of demonstrations by supporters of President Donald Trump.
Officers and deputies have not been given guidance about participating in upcoming demonstrations. The agencies said the expectation is that each of its employees abide by department policies.
In 2018, the sheriff’s office fired a deputy photographed wearing, and who apparently merchandised, apparel affiliated with the Proud Boys, a far-right group known for its white nationalist rhetoric and frequent appearances in the middle of political violence locally and nationwide.