Letter to the Editor: Background Check of Winlock Mayor, a Former Police Reserve, Questioned


Winlock Mayor Brandon Svenson made it into the basic law enforcement academy originally sponsored by the City of Toledo in 2022. Chief Sam Patrick signed Mr. Svenson's form 1270 that a thorough background check had been completed prior to approving Svenson for that academy. According to Svenson's training history report, he graduated academy June 19, 2022, while still sponsored by the Toledo Police Department.

Chief Patrick resigned his position with Toledo during the month of July 2022 and Toledo's reserve program was dissolved. To the best of my knowledge, Svenson then began immediately patrolling for the City of Morton under the supervision of Chief Roger Morningstar and/or the City of Pe Ell, which entered into an interlocal police coverage contract with Morton in October 2022. On New Year's Eve 2022, Mr. Svenson was caught by Washington State Patrol in a personal vehicle going 83 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone and received another reckless speeding ticket, of which he has a few.

On Jan. 11, the City of Toledo then sent a letter regarding their belief that their former chief may not have completed the required background checks on Svenson and attempting to distance themselves and indemnify the City of Toledo from any actions taken by Mr. Svenson as a reserve police officer.

By failing to properly vet a reserve cadet and helping pass them through this reserve academy, former Toledo Chief Patrick (now of McCleary) and Morton Chief Morningstar (the reserve academy sponsor ultimately responsible for vetting all academy paperwork) not only jeopardized the civil rights and personal safety of Lewis County residents, but Mr. Patrick also signed and attested to omissions on Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) forms and Mr. Morningstar failed to notify the CJTC of a newly hired reserve or to verify the paperwork on said reserve after transfer, regardless if Morningstar was the original academy sponsor or not. 

Such egregious oversights are in direct violation of RCW 43.101.105 (3)(a)(b)(c) and RCW 43.101.105 (9) and should be grounds for immediate revocation of any associated certifications of each of these individuals. Despite Mr. Svenson's incomplete background and despite Mr. Svensons’s often-public tirades toward marginalized people in this community, Chief Patrick and Chief Morningstar still allowed him through this academy, allowed him to change agencies unbeknownst to the CJTC, and allowed Mr. Svenson from at least October 2022 to January 2023 the ability to act under color of law.

Every report Mr. Svenson has created in whole or in part since June 19, 2022, is questionable. All three certifications should be carefully reviewed and in my opinion revoked so something like this does not happen again.

I would encourage concerned citizens to reach out to Morton, Pe Ell and the CJTC regarding these deeply concerning issues of neglectful oversight the same as I have. We deserve safe streets — that starts with safe people patrolling them. 


Kyle Wheeler



Editor’s Note: A news story focused on this topic can be found here.