Action related to 2015 incident involving Tindall’s teenage son
By Don Nelson
The Town of Winthrop is once again without a marshal after the state Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) recently revoked the peace officer certification of Marshal Dan Tindall.
The revocation order, dated Oct. 26, was issued after a CJTC administrative hearing earlier in October. The hearing was requested by Tindall after the CJTC staff had filed a statement of charges seeking to revoke Tindall’s peace officer certification on Feb. 13 of this year –“on the basis that he was discharged from the WSP [Washington State Patrol] for disqualifying misconduct” in 2015, according to the CJTC revocation order.
Winthrop Mayor Sally Ranzau said this week that the town is considering its options, with the hope of keeping Tindall as marshal. However, that would not be possible if Tindall’s certification is not restored.
Tindall has the option to ask the CJTC to reconsider its decision, but the revocation order would stay in effect during any such reconsideration. Tindall can also seek a judicial review in state Superior Court, independent of the reconsideration request.
Failing reversal of the revocation in either of those options, Tindall could not file for reinstatement as a peace office until five years after the revocation order was issued.
Tindall took over as town marshal in August 2017. Since then, he has hired two experienced deputies to bring the department to full-strength, and has earned supportive reviews from town officials and residents.
Ranzau said Tindall was out of town this week. The News contacted Tindall’s attorney, Jim David of Vancouver, Washington, but had not heard from him by press time for this story.
2015 incident cited
The revocation order refers to an incident in 2015, in which Tindall was accused of making false or misleading statements to law enforcement officers related to the investigation of his son for alleged criminal activity. In 2016, Tindall pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal charge related to those accusations.
The statement of charges the CJTC filed in February of this year alleged that Tindall “was discharged [from the Washington State Patrol] for disqualifying conduct” as defined by state law. Tindall’s alleged actions “included conduct constituting a crime involving dishonesty or false statement,” the charging statement said.
Although Tindall retired from the WSP in August 2015, the CJTC’s revocation order states that “the totality of circumstances support the finding that Mr. Tindall resigned from WSP in anticipation of discipline that more likely than not would have led to termination of employment for disqualifying misconduct.”
In other words, although Tindall retired, for purposes of the CJTC’s actions he could be considered to have been discharged by the WSP.
Specifically, the charging statement said, during a criminal investigation of his son in 2015 Tindall “made false and/or misleading statements to Olympia Police Department Sergeant Sean Lindros when he denied recognizing his son in a video, and further denied recognizing the articles of clothing worn by his son in the video.”
The CJTC, which is authorized by the state to certify peace officers for duty, appointed a hearings panel to consider the allegations against Tindall on Oct. 16.
The revocation hearing in Burien was open to the public. The hearing panel included a college professor as well as several police chiefs, county sheriffs and other law enforcement officers from around the state.
At the hearing, Tindall testified on his own behalf and submitted testimony offered by his wife, Melissa, Twisp Police Chief Paul Budrow, former Winthrop Mayor Rick Northcott (who hired Tindall to be marshal) and retired WSP trooper Elmer Schick. Budrow also was called to testify for the CJTC’s presentation.
The revocation order cites 35 evidentiary exhibits (documents, emails and other materials) submitted by the state. One of the submitted exhibits was a copy of an Aug. 25, 2017, article in the Methow Valley News, with the headline “Winthrop’s new marshal has deep roots in the Methow Valley.’”
Tindall also submitted exhibits, and requested the case be dismissed on the grounds of insufficient notice and insufficient evidence, but the panel’s presiding member denied those motions.
The CJTC case
Under “Findings of Fact” in the revocation order, the CJTC panel said that in March 2015, Tindall’s son, Wyatt, had attempted to light a vehicle on fire. In the subsequent investigation by the Olympia Police Department, the revocation order said, Olympia investigators contacted Tindall with evidence, including a security video recorded by a surveillance camera, which suggested that his son was possibly involved in setting the fire.
Later, the revocation order alleges, “in a deliberate attempt to conceal evidence of his son’s crime from law enforcement, Mr. Tindall transported the articles of clothing worn by his son in the video to the Tindalls’ secondary residence in Winthrop, WA.”
In April of 2015, a search warrant was executed at the Tindalls’ Methow Valley home, where investigators found clothing evidence possibly related to the vehicle fire, according to the revocation order.
On the same day, Tindall was interviewed by Olympia investigators and Mirandized. In that interview, the revocation order alleges, Tindall denied recognizing his son in the security video and also denied recognizing any of the articles of clothing worn by his son in the video.
Those are the statements by Tindall that the CJTC characterized as “false and misleading”
Wyatt Tindall was also interviewed that day, the revocation order said, and admitted to the vehicle arson.
“After the interviews, [Olympia Police Department] Sergeant Costello contacted Lieutenant [Monica] Alexander at WSP and expressed his opinion that Mr. Tindall was not cooperating in the investigation and was not honest in his interview. Sergeant Costello told Lieutenant Alexander that Wyatt had already confessed to the arson and told police that his parents hid the clothing because they did not want him charged with a crime,” according to the revocation order.
Retirement and plea
Later in April, the WSP’s Office of Professional Standards (OSP) began its own investigation into Tindall’s actions, the revocation order said. Tindall was placed on administrative leave. The OSP attempted to schedule an interview with Tindall on July 30, 2015, which Tindall asked to be postponed to August. Two days before the rescheduled interview, Tindall retired from the WSP, the revocation order said.
“Given the totality of circumstances, had Mr. Tindall not retired from WSP and had the OPS investigation been carried forward, it would more likely than not have led to Mr. Tindall’s discharge from employment for misconduct,” the revocation order concluded.
In June 2016, Tindall pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of rendering criminal assistance in the second degree. In his plea, the revocation order says, Tindall admitted that he “with intent, helped my son, Wyatt Tindall, avoid or delay apprehension knowing he was being sought by the police for a criminal felony.”
In its “Conclusions of Law” summary, the CJTC revocation order alleges that “if not patently false, the statements [made by Tindall to police investigators] were at least misleading.”
The CJTC hearing panel’s decision to revoke Tindall’s certification was unanimous.
Supported in Winthrop
In an interview this week, Mayor Ranzau said the town was made aware of the revocation order and is considering its options, including consulting with the town attorney. “We want to keep him [Tindall],” Ranzau said. “He’s a good officer. He’s been so positive that we would hate to lose him.”
Tindall is a decorated former Washington State Patrol trooper. He has owned property in the Methow Valley for more than two decades. He lived here from 1995 to 2002 when he was assigned as a state trooper to Okanogan County, and kept his valley property when he was posted to other parts of the state.
Tindall’s 25 years with the state patrol included more than 12 years on the executive protection unit, where he provided security for the three most recent Washington governors — Gary Locke, Christine Gregoire and Jay Inslee. Tindall is one of only 11 Washington troopers accorded the Award of Honor, the state patrol’s highest recognition for an outstanding act of valor. After retiring from the patrol in August 2015, Tindall worked for a private security firm that contracted uniformed, armed security officers to retail businesses.
Tindall was hired to bring some needed stability to the Winthrop marshal’s position, which had been empty for six months following the controversial firing of former Marshal Hal Henning, who had served just eight months before losing the trust of then-Mayor Anne Acheson. Henning’s firing came after the previous acting marshal and marshal served five and 14 months respectively.
In a Methow Valley News interview in August 2017, Tindall discussed the widely reported 2015 case that involved his son. Tindall said in the 2017 interview that his son and a friend had similar physical builds and the surveillance video was poor quality, and the image could have been of either boy.
Tindall said his son eventually claimed responsibility but may have been trying to protect his friend. “I couldn’t tell if my son and his friend were being honest with me,” he said in the 2017 interview.
“The worst thing I did was drive my family to our home. Whether my son brought clothing here, I don’t know,” Tindall said in that interview. “It’s my understanding that none of the clothing articles taken from either of my residences was tied in any way to a crime.”
Wyatt Tindall was sentenced to a two-year community-based program of supervision and treatment in lieu of a felony conviction and incarceration.
“My wife and I agreed to the plea deal on the advice of our attorneys … we were out of funds to take it to trial and we wanted to give our son a chance to get counseling and not be a felon,” Tindall said in the 2017 interview. “I was tired of having this cloud hanging over us. It was a nightmare for our family.”
Town aware of past
Then-Mayor Rick Northcott said in 2017 that he and others were aware of Tindall’s past legal issues. Northcott said he checked with many people in law enforcement and criminal justice who knew Tindall, and who said the former trooper was widely respected for his character and professionalism. Northcott also said he questioned Tindall in depth before offering him the marshal position.
“I knew about it. It was public knowledge. It was in the New York Times, the Wenatchee World,” said Northcott at the time. “Everybody knows about it. I’ve had people come up to me and talk to me about it.”
“People stood up for him and said this [incident] wasn’t in character … he was trying to keep his son out of prison,” Northcott said. “I would feel much differently if he had rendered criminal assistance to someone other than his family.”
Tindall successfully passed a background check and polygraph and psychiatric tests required of marshal applicants, Northcott said in the 2017 interview.
Northcott said input from people who know Tindall and his own assessment made him feel comfortable about “the high character of this man … I’m willing to take the chance,” he said. “Given his background of 25 years of experience … I just didn’t know if we’d get this kind of opportunity again.”
Winthrop has been plagued with a long string of issues that have left the town’s police department understaffed or without any police officers at all on several occasions in recent years. Ranzau noted this week how difficult it is for small rural towns to attract and keep qualified law enforcement officers.
This article includes material previously reported in the Methow Valley News.
What is the Criminal Justice Training Commission?
According to the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) website (fortress.wa.gov/cjtc/www), the commission was created in 1974 “to establish standards and provide training to criminal justice professionals, including peace officers, local corrections officers and to certify, and when necessary de-certify, peace officers … Washington State is one of only a few states that not only establishes training standards, but also provides Basic Training for Peace Officers and Corrections Officers.”
The CJTC is overseen by 14 governor-appointed commissioners, including state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, WSP Chief John Batiste, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, and other law enforcement officials from around the state.
Winthrop’s marshals: a timeline
• December 2013: Marshal Dave Dahlstrom resigns after four years on the job; deputy Ken Bajema named interim marshal
• May 2014: Rikki Schwab hired as marshal
• July 2015: Schwab resigns, Bajema takes over as acting marshal
• December 2015: Bajema resigns, which leaves town with no police officers
• June 2016: Hal Henning hired as marshal by former Mayor Sue Langdalen
• February 2017: Henning fired by Mayor Anne Acheson, which again leaves the town with no police officers; town contracts with Twisp for police protection
• August 2017: Daniel Tindall hired as Winthrop marshal
• December 2017: Doug Johnson hired as a deputy marshal
• August 2018: Bajema re-hired as a deputy marshal
• October 2018: State Criminal Justice Training Commission issues an order revoking Tindall’s peace office certification