WAPATO, Wash. -- The city of Wapato has hired former Yakima Police Chief Dominic Rizzi Jr. as a consultant for its police department.

City Administrator Juan Orozco said Rizzi will provide input on how the department should operate moving forward.

“He’s been an officer for 25 years in much bigger police departments than Wapato,” Orozco said. “He has a wealth of experience that we’re looking forward to utilizing.”

Rizzi’s position is temporary and he’ll be paid $38 an hour. Orozco said he wasn’t sure how long Rizzi will be in the position.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for myself and for the city of Wapato,” Rizzi said. “There’s a lot of issues that go on here in the Valley, and the experience I had in the Yakima Police Department will allow me to come in and look at what needs to be done with outside eyes.”

Wapato’s police union, Local 760 of the Teamsters, filed a lawsuit against the city in August claiming coercion, retaliation and discrimination for participation in union activity. The lawsuit, filed in Yakima County Superior Court, contends Orozco and Public Safety Director Michael Campos retaliated against Wapato police officers after they voted not to renew Campos as acting public safety director.

Orozco called the claims unfounded.

Orozco said the city has hired the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to audit the city’s police department to look for any deficiencies. The Wapato Police Department has eight officers.

“This is a good thing. It’s a good thing for our city,” Orozco said of bringing on Rizzi.

Rizzi and Yakima

The city of Yakima gave Rizzi 60 days notice in September that it would end his contract as police chief. He is no longer a city employee.

Rizzi signed a release Nov. 16 agreeing not to sue the city or its employees in relation to his employment with the police department, city spokesman Randy Beehler said. Rizzi was fired without cause.

The agreement does not include any nondisclosure or noncompete clauses, Beehler said.

The city has 45 days from the signing to pay Rizzi $83,510 for six months’ severance. The payment will come out of the police budget, which is part of the city’s general fund.

The city also paid Rizzi about $23,000 during 60 days of paid administrative leave.

Rizzi’s last performance review identified issues the city manager had with him before his firing, including attendance, professional relationships inside the department, and information about homicide cases. Rizzi was reprimanded at least twice during the summer, according to city documents.

He was Yakima police chief for six years.

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