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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Police Chief Rejects Panel's Urging to Sanction Cop in Domestic Violence Case

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Police Chief Mike Reese has once again refused a citizen appeal panel's recommendation that he punish a cop who'd otherwise been cleared of wrongdoing after an internal police investigation, according to a letter obtained by the Mercury this morning. And the refusal could trigger a rare city council hearing on a Portland police misconduct case.

Reese's statements were delivered January 23. His letter answered the Citizen Review Committee's unanimous urging last December that Officer Jason Lobaugh be found in violation of the bureau's professionalism policy after he was accused of menacing his ex-wife and her husband during an off-duty custody dispute.

The CRC wanted Reese to change a finding listing the accusations as "unproven" to one that said "sustained." In its decision, the CRC decided command staff didn't reasonably consider the facts uncovered during the bureau's internal investigation. (Read our coverage of the vote December 5 for more details on the allegations and the CRC's response.)

The chief's reply didn't get into the merits of the CRC argument he was dismissing.

"I believe the commander and members of the Police Review Board made a reasoned decision and that there is a rational logical connection between the recommended finding and the evidence in the record. Alternatively, I found no evidence that the basis of the recommended finding was unreasonable and find that there is sufficient evidence in the record for a reasonable fact finder to come to a finding of UNPROVEN WITH A DEBRIEFING."

The last time the CRC voted to challenge a police bureau finding on discipline, it was in a rudeness case against an elderly African American man, Floyd McCorvey, whom officers, during a jaywalking stop, had accused of being a pimp. Reese refused that request with a much longer letter dwelling on McCorvey's background, something that raised hackles among the CRC and activists.

The CRC could have sent that dispute to the city council, but Reese prevailed after one of the members who initially agreed with challenging the bureau changed her vote.

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